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Local

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger: President's tweets wrong, 'further divide us'

Congressman also says media contribute to division, asks for better on both sides of the aisle

Congressman Adam Kinzinger said President Donald Trump's tweets were wrong and divisive, but he also added "too much value and unrealistic expectations" are put "on who says what on Twitter."

Kinzinger, R-Channahon, shared a statement on his Facebook and Twitter pages Monday afternoon, saying "we as a nation have to demand better from our elected officials, on both sides of the aisle."

The congressman, whose district includes Ottawa and Streator, joined several GOP senators, and some House Republicans, who said Trump had gone too far.

In a series of three successive tweets Sunday, the president said: "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. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how...."

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

Trump appeared to be referring to the four new lawmakers — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar-D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. — who are among the most outspoken against Trump administration policies and have made headlines in their ongoing divisions with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They all support impeachment.

Each of them are women of color, three of them were born in the United States and Omar is a refugee from Somalia.

Kinzinger said in his statement "we can and should debate the ideas and argue over different policies."

"But to denigrate those you disagree with, especially like this, is not reflective of the high honor and responsibility that the office of the presidency carries," the congressman said.

Trump said condemnation of his comments "doesn't concern me because many people agree with me."

Kinzinger has been critical of the president's use of Twitter on a number of occasions.

During Memorial Day weekend, Kinzinger was critical of a Trump tweet referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as North Korea's recent firing of short-range missiles.

Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran and Wisconsin Air National Guard member, responded: "It’s Memorial Day Weekend and you’re taking a shot at Biden while praising a dictator. This is just plain wrong."

Kinzinger endorsed Trump during a meeting with editors from Shaw Media newspapers in November prior to the election, but he was also critical of the president's Twitter comments. Additionally, he told the New York Times previously he takes little pleasure in being asked to account for “every tweet, every comment” the president makes.

He further explained his disgust with the president's use of social media and having to respond to media following those comments.

Kinzinger said "seeing countless media folks threaten over the supposed 'silence' (Sunday) also contributes to division in our country, with the near constant outcry that puts way too much value and unrealistic expectations on who says what on Twitter."

"To respond to every thing the president says, just to appease the masses, would be a full-time job and not particularly beneficial to the people I represent in IL-16," Kinzinger said. "They know where I stand, they know I have said time and again that I strongly disagree with the president on tone and his use of Twitter, and they know where my moral compass points. This is an ugly time for political discourse, and we must ALL work harder to improve it."

Trump added Monday morning on Twitter: "When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said. So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!"

He also tweeted: "The Dems were trying to distance themselves from the four “progressives,” but now they are forced to embrace them. That means they are endorsing Socialism, hate of Israel and the USA! Not good for the Democrats!"

The criticisms of Trump were coming initially from rank-and-file lawmakers, not Republican leaders, according to the Associated Press. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have yet to comment.

Sen. Tim Scott, of South Carolina, the only black Republican senator, said Trump made "unacceptable personal attacks" and used "racially offensive language."

Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who faces a potentially tough re-election in 2020, called the president's comment "way over the line." While Collins said she disagrees "strongly" with many of the views of the "far-left" members of the House Democrats, she said the president's tweets should be removed.

One Republican ally of Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, sought to nudge Trump to focus on their policies, even as he also called the women "anti-American." But others took a stronger line.

Rep. Will Hurd, of Texas, one of a handful of African American Republicans in Congress, said Trump's tweets against the women lawmakers are "racist and xenophobic."

Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, said Trump "does not know how to defend his policies and so what he does is attack us personally." At a news conference late Monday, Pressley said Americans should "not take the bait" from Trump and should instead focus on their own agenda.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

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