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Trump falsely claims he tried to stop ‘Send her back!’ chants about Rep. Ilhan Omar

President Trump on July 18 falsely said he stopped the crowd at his July 17 rally from chanting "Send her back!" toward Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

“I was not happy with it. I disagreed with it. ... I think I did [try to stop the chant]. I started speaking very quickly.”

— President Trump, in remarks at the White House, July 18, 2019

At a Trump campaign rally Wednesday, the crowd broke into an extended chant — “Send her back!” — about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

The president had been attacking Omar, a Somali American immigrant and practicing Muslim, with false claims for days. We just gave him Four Pinocchios for claiming she supports al-Qaeda.

Trump said he tried to stop the “Send her back!” chants by quickly resuming his speech. This will be a short fact check, because video of the rally totally debunks his claim.

The Facts

Trump got this ball rolling Sunday, with Twitter statements telling Omar and three U.S.-born lawmakers of color to “go back” to their countries. He doubled down on those claims over the following days.

Trump was attacking Omar by name at the North Carolina rally when the crowd began to chant “Send her back!” He let the chants linger for 13 seconds before resuming his speech. After the chants died down, Trump kept criticizing Omar.

Here’s a timeline:

July 14: Trump tweets: “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.”

July 15: Addressing reporters at the White House, Trump says: “As far as I’m concerned, if you hate our country, if you’re not happy here, you can leave. And that’s what I say all the time. That’s what I said in a tweet, which I guess some people think is controversial. A lot of people love it, by the way. A lot of people love it. But if you’re not happy in the U.S., if you’re complaining all the time, very simply, you can leave.”

A reporter asks Trump, “Does it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point?” The president responds: “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me. And all I’m saying: They want to leave, they can leave. Now, it doesn’t say leave forever. It says leave if you want.”

July 16: Trump tweets, “IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE!”

July 17: Nearly 16 minutes into his remarks at the rally in Greenville, N.C., Trump mentions Omar by name. “Representative Ilhan Omar, of a really great state I almost won — first time in decades and decades — Minnesota, great state ...”

The crowd at this point begins loudly booing and chanting. Video of the rally shows Trump standing passively onstage, watching the crowd. The chants die down on their own.

After a minute or so, Trump resumes the attack: “Omar minimized the September 11th attacks on our homeland, saying ‘some people did something.’ I don’t think so. Some people did something. Yeah, some people did something, all right. ... Omar laughed that Americans speak of al-Qaeda in a menacing tone and remarked that, ‘You don’t say America with this intensity. You say al-Qaeda. It makes you proud. Al-Qaeda makes you proud.’” (The claim about al-Qaeda is a Four Pinocchio distortion of what Omar actually said in a 2013 interview.)

The crowd stops him again, chanting “send her back!” for 13 seconds. The president stands onstage, waits for the chant to die down, then keeps talking about Omar.

A few minutes later, Trump again suggests Omar and the other congresswomen leave the United States: “They never have anything good to say. That’s why I say, ‘Hey, if they don’t like it, let them leave, let them leave.’ Right? Let them leave. They’re always telling us how to run and how to do this. How do — you know what, if they don’t love it, tell them to leave it.”

July 18: At the White House, a reporter asks Trump about the chant. The president says, “I was not happy with it. I disagreed with it. ... I think I did [try to stop it]. I started speaking very quickly.”

The Pinocchio Test

Trump got this ball rolling with his tweets and remarks telling Omar and other lawmakers to “go back” to their countries. Video of the rally shows Trump did not try to stop the “Send her back!” chants about Omar. He stood passively onstage and waited for the chants to die down on their own before resuming his speech. Within seconds, he was back to criticizing Omar. Minutes later, he suggested again that Omar and other critics leave the United States.

Another Four Pinocchios.

Four Pinocchios

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Four Pinocchios
“I was not happy with it. I disagreed with it. ... I think I did [try to stop the 'send her back!' chant about Ilhan Omar]. I started speaking very quickly.”
in remarks at the White House, Washington, D.C.
Thursday, July 18, 2019