Donald Trump defended Israel’s controversial decision to bar Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country.
The president also denied having any involvement in the matter, despite publicly pressuring the Israeli government not to let Omar and Tlaib, the first two Muslim women elected to the US Congress, visit the country.
“That’s a decision of Israel. They can let them in if they want,” Trump said at the White House.
Omar and Tlaib had planned to travel to Israel last week but were banned by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. The Israeli prime minister cited the two Democratic lawmakers’ support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in justifying his actions.
Siding with the Israeli government over US elected officials, Trump told reporters: “It was all going to be a propaganda tour against Israel, so I don’t blame Israel for doing what they did.”
The president also doubled down on his criticism of Tlaib for becoming emotional during a press conference on Monday when speaking about her grandmother, who lives in the occupied West Bank.
“All of a sudden, she starts the tears, and I don’t buy it for a second,” Trump said of Tlaib, who is the first Palestinian American to serve in Congress.
“I’ve seen her in a very vicious mood. I saw a woman that was violent and vicious and out of control,” he added. “And all of a sudden I see this person who’s crying because she can’t see her grandmother.”
In one particularly jarring statement, Trump went on the criticize any Jewish American who supports the Democratic Party.
“I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” the president said.
Trump also addressed negotiations with China and insisted his trade war with Beijing was working, despite fears of a potential economic recession.
“China’s been grifting off this country for 25 years,” Trump said. “The fact is, somebody had to take China on.”
He added: “My life would be a lot easier if I didn’t take China on. But I like doing it, because I have to do it.”
Last week, Trump delayed the implementation of proposed tariffs on a host of Chinese imports until December in a bid to prevent US consumers from incurring higher prices during the holiday season.
“I am doing this whether it’s good or bad,” Trump added of his aggressive trade practices.