The row between President Donald Trump and four Democratic congresswomen has escalated after his supporters chanted “send her back” at a campaign rally.
The chants followed Mr Trump’s attacks on non-white lawmakers Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley – all US citizens.
Ms Omar, who is Somali-born, responded by quoting a poem by civil rights activist Maya Angelou.
Ahead of the rally, a bid to impeach Mr Trump was blocked in Congress.
The controversial chants took place at Mr Trump’s campaign rally in North Carolina, where Mr Trump was cheered on by the crowd of thousands as he again accused the women, known as “the squad”, of hating America.
Critics say it echoed the “lock her up” phrase adopted by his supporters against Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
What’s the reaction?
In response, Ms Omar tweeted lines from Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise: “You may shoot me with your words…But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
On Twitter, #IStandWithIlhan began trending as Democrats expressed their support for Ms Omar and criticised the president for prompting the chants with his rhetoric.
Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted: “Trump is stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society.”
Senator Kamala Harris, another Democratic 2020 contender, described the actions as “vile”.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi simply told reporters: “We condemned the president’s comments the other day. That’s our statement.”
Some conservatives have also censured the use of the phrase.
Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee Tom Emmer – who, like Ms Omar, represents Minnesota in Congress – told reporters he did not agree with the language.
“There’s no place for that kind of talk,” Mr Emmer said, according to Politico, though he stopped short of calling the chants racist. He said the chant was “not acceptable”.
North Carolina congressman Mark Walker said that he “struggled” with the chant and that the focus should be on “her history, words & actions” instead of “phrasing that’s painful to our friends in the minority communities”.
His fellow Republican Adam Kinzinger said the chants were “ugly”.
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro said “chanting for her deportation based on her exercise of the First Amendment is disgusting”.
What else has Mr Trump said?
In an interview with the Daily Mail just before the Greenville rally, Mr Trump said he was “not unhappy” with the way the row has played out and said he believes he is “winning the political fight…by a lot”.
“I’m not relishing the fight,” Mr Trump said. “I’m enjoying it because I have to get the word out to the American people. And you have to enjoy what you do. I enjoy what I do.”
He added: “I think that they are not espousing the views of our country, the four congresswomen.”
“The only thing they have, that they can do is, now, play the race card. Which they’ve always done.”
What’s the background?
The chanting stems from Mr Trump’s attacks on the women from this weekend, where in a series of tweets, he told the then unnamed politicians to “go back” to their countries.
The president has denied accusations that the tweets were racist, but the Democrat-controlled House passed a symbolic resolution denouncing Mr Trump’s “racist comments that have legitimised fear and hatred of New Americans and people of colour”.
Earlier on Wednesday, a bid to launch impeachment proceedings against Mr Trump was blocked in the US House of Representatives.
Texas Democrat Al Green filed the measure after the passing of the symbolic resolution, arguing Mr Trump had “brought the high office of the President of the United States into contempt, ridicule, disgrace and disrepute”.
But it failed to win enough support, with his fellow Democrats voting overwhelmingly against it – though the 95 Democrats voting in favour signalled an increase in support from Mr Green’s past attempts in 2017 and 2018.
Mr Trump said the “ridiculous” attempts to impeach him were now “over”.
“This should never be allowed to happen to another President of the United States again!” he tweeted.
The process of impeachment has to be started by the House of Representatives and only needs a simple majority to pass. The trial will be held in the Senate.
But here, a two-thirds vote is necessary for the president’s removal – and this milestone has never been reached in America’s history.
Trump sparks condemnation after supporters chant ‘send her back’