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Trump Takes Pelosi's Side Against AOC and The Squad as Intraparty Fight Over Immigration Continues

"Pelosi, in short, is trying her best to play the game of politics as usual—the only game she has known as she has ascended the party hierarchy. 'The Squad,' on the other hand, is trying to change the rules of the game."

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi applauds U.S. President Donald Trump as he arrives to deliver the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 5, 2019.

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi applauds U.S. President Donald Trump as he arrives to deliver the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 5, 2019. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump came to the defense of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday as the California Democrat faces a sustained barrage of criticism for her shepherding through Congress of a bill that gave the White House $4.6 billion to continue the war on immigrants. 

"Before anybody flips out too much at this tweet, consider that Pelosi advanced this football in her interview with Maureen Dowd. All Trump is doing is carrying it across the finish line."
—Andray Domise, Macleans

The conflict between Pelosi, a California Democrat, and "The Squad," as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) are known, began in late June after the Speaker pushed a huge immigration spending bill through the House.

The legislation delivered Trump billions of dollars for his border policies with no strings attached in a Senate bill with protections stripped out of it by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

"Hell no," Ocasio-Cortez said at the time. "That's an abdication of power we should refuse to accept. They will keep hurting kids if we do."

After criticism from Ocasio-Cortez and others became public, Pelosi gave an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, published on July 6, in which Pelosi dismissed The Squad as only having "their public whatever and their Twitter world." 

The ensuing back and forth culminated in a midweek meeting on July 10 in which, as Common Dreams reported, the Speaker admonished members of the caucus—and Ocasio-Cortez in particular—to "not tweet" or publicly air grievances but rather to come to Pelosi.

Whatever truce may have come out of the meeting was short-lived, however, as the party's progressive wing has nonetheless been under attack over the weekend from the House leadership, including a tweet attacking Ocasio-Cortez's Chief of Staff for a June critique of a vote by Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) and a new Dowd column in which she turned to Rahm Emmanuel for comment.

As Jeffrey Isaac pointed out in a column for Common Dreams on July 11, the intraparty battle exposes the difference in approach to politics from both sides of the party.

"Pelosi, in short, is trying her best to play the game of politics as usual—the only game she has known as she has ascended the party hierarchy," wrote Isaac. "'The Squad,' on the other hand, is trying to change the rules of the game."

Set against the backdrop of Sunday's ICE raids that are specifically targeting families and the ongoing flow of images from border detention camps in the media, the intraparty fight is exposing the deep rift between more cautious party leadership and the outspoken new members.

That's where Trump stepped in. The president—who seemed to be enjoying placing himself in the middle of an internecine squabble between his political enemies—expressed his support for Pelosi and decried her critics.

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"So interesting to see 'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly  and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run," Trump tweeted.

"Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came," the president continued. "Then come back and show us how it is done."

"These places need your help badly, you can't leave fast enough," said Trump. "I'm sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!"

Omar is the only one of the quartet born outside of the United States, moving to the U.S. from Somalia at the age of 12. All four are, however, women of color. 

Critics of both Pelosi and Trump were quick to tie the two together.

"Before anybody flips out too much at this tweet, consider that Pelosi advanced this football in her interview with Maureen Dowd," said Macleans editor Andray Domise. "All Trump is doing is carrying it across the finish line."

In response to the president's bombast, Pelosi rejected Trump's support, saying on Twitter that his rhetoric "reaffirms his plan to 'Make America Great Again' has always been about making America white again."

However, Pelosi added, she'd not necessarily be opposed to working together on immigration moving forward. 

"Rather than attack members of Congress, he should work with us for humane immigration policy that reflects American values," Pelosi tweeted. "Stop the raids."

The comments were seen as too conciliatory to the president as ICE descended on migrant communities across the country, rounding up families. 

"In the early days of Trump presidency, liberals would joke 'Infrastructure Week!' to highlight how off message and chaotic the administration is," tweeted The District Sentinel's Sam Sacks. "But it works both ways. No matter how racist Trump gets, Pelosi will always try to work with him to pass an infrastructure bill or something."

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