President Trump on Friday weighed in on the side of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her public spat with four outspoken freshman congresswomen in her Democratic caucus. In a remarkable turnaround, he had nicer things to say about her than about Paul Ryan, the previous speaker — a Republican who supported every part of Trump’s agenda in Congress.
Earlier this week, Pelosi scolded the group that has been dubbed the “squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — for going public with their criticisms of her.
“I think Cortez is being very disrespectful to somebody that’s been there a long time,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn before departing to Wisconsin for a fundraiser. “I think that a group of people is being very disrespectful to her. And you know what, I don’t think that Nancy can let that go on.”
“I deal with Nancy Pelosi a lot, and we go back and forth and it’s fine,” the president said.
At various times, Trump has called Pelosi a “nasty,” “vindictive” and “horrible person.” As recently as last month, he described her as “a disgrace to herself and her family.”
Nervous Nancy Pelosi is a disgrace to herself and her family for having made such a disgusting statement, especially since I was with foreign leaders overseas. There is no evidence for such a thing to have been said. Nervous Nancy & Dems are getting Zero work done in Congress....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez, Trump said Friday, “should treat Nancy Pelosi with respect.”
Earlier this month, after the four progressive freshmen opposed a House border aid bill that ultimately passed, Pelosi downplayed their influence within the party.
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi told the New York Times. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”
In an interview with the Washington Post published Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez accused Pelosi of “the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”
“I’ll tell you something about Nancy Pelosi,” Trump said Friday. “She is not a racist, OK. She is not a racist. For them to call her a racist is a disgrace.”
Trump singled out Omar, who along with Tlaib was one of the first two Muslim American women to be elected to Congress.
“If one half of the things they’re saying about her are true, she shouldn’t even be in office,” Trump said.
Omar, who has faced bipartisan criticism over her comments about Israel, has been subject to conspiracy theories and faced death threats from the far-right.
“If one-tenth of what they say about you is true, you shouldn’t be in office,” Omar responded in a tweet. “Next.”
Trump also lashed out at Ryan, the former Republican speaker of the House, calling him a “lame duck” who lost control of the chamber. Excerpts from the upcoming book “American Carnage” quote Ryan as saying he stopped Trump from making bad decisions.
“Paul Ryan was a terrible speaker,” Trump said. “Frankly, he was a baby. He didn’t know what the hell he was doing.”
Ryan led House Republicans for four years until he retired from political life in 2019. The former speaker told writer Tim Alberta that Trump “didn’t know anything about government.”
“I wanted to scold him all the time,” Ryan said.
Casey Darnell contributed reporting to this story
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