One of Donald Trump's closest aides has demanded to know the ethnicity of a reporter who asked her about the
US president's tweets about four non-white congresswomen that have been condemned as racist
The prickly exchange came as Kellyanne Conway answered press questions outside the White House about tweets in which Mr Trump demanded four non-white congresswomen 'go back to the countries they came from'.
Breakfast Media reporter Andrew Feinberg asked Ms Conway: 'If the President was not telling these four congresswomen to return to their supposed countries of origin, to which countries was he referring?'
Conway replied: 'What's your ethnicity?'
Feinberg: 'Why is that relevant?'
Conway: 'No. No. Because I'm asking a question. My ancestors are from Ireland and Italy,'
Feinberg: 'My own ethnicity is not relevant to the question I'm asking.'
Conway: 'No no. It is. Because you're asking, he said originally, he said originally from.'
Mr Trump's tweets were widely accepted to have been directed at four congresswomen representing the far-left of the Democratic caucus, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley.
Three of the four were born in the United States, and Ms Omar was a naturalised US citizen who came to the country as a 10-year-old refugee from Somalia.
House votes to condemn Trump's racist tweets
Ms Conway said the four non-white politicians 'represent a dark underbelly in this country'.
'We're tired of some of these women palling around with terrorists,' she said.
Ms Conway is a political consultant who serves as counsellor to the White House, and is one of few advisers who has been with Mr Trump's team from the beginning.
Ms Conway's husband George, a high-profile Republican lawyer and frequent critic of Mr Trump, added his voice to widespread condemnation of the president for his tweets about the congresswomen.
'Naivete, resentment and outright racism, roiled in a toxic mix, have given us a racist president,' he wrote in the
'Trump could have used vile slurs, including the vilest of them all, and the intent and effect would have been no less clear.'
Earlier today, the
House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning Mr Trump's tweets as racist
'President Donald Trump's racist comments have legitimised fear and hatred of new Americans and people of colour,' the resolution read.
The resolution passed 240 to 187, with all Democrats in the House voting in favour, and all but four Republicans voting against.
Who are 'the squad'?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley are among the most junior members of Congress.
Elected in November last year, the four are new to Washington politics.
But thanks to substantial social media followings and an inclination to be brash and outspoken, they wield significant influence within the Democratic Party.
The four are informally referred to as 'the squad'.
They also represent the far-left of the caucus, with Ms Ocasio-Cortez and Ms Tlaib identifying as 'Democratic socialists'.
The four draw a sharp contrast to the Republican caucus of the House of Representatives, who have just 13 women and a mere handful of non-white members.
The squad had been quibbling with Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the weekend over social media, but the animus was redirected after Mr Trump's tweets.
tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to 'Make America Great Again' has always been about making America white again,' Ms Pelosi said.
'Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power.'
Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?
The best known of the four,
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stunned Washington DC last year when she ousted Democratic heavyweight Joe Crowley in a primary election
Mr Crowley was feted as the next Speaker of the House, but was caught unaware by Ms Ocasio-Cortez, who was working as a bartender before her election to Congress.
The youngest-ever congresswoman, 29-year-old Ms Ocasio-Cortez represents parts of The Bronx and Queens in New York.
But in a few short months she has become a household name in America, one of the best-known and most divisive politicians in the country.
She has long been a proponent of major government action to take on climate change and health care, branded as the 'Green New Deal and 'Medicare-for-All'.
Who is Rashida Tlaib?
was one of the two first Muslim women to serve in Congress when she was sworn in in January. The other is Ilhan Omar.
Ms Tlaib represents one of the poorest districts in America, a part of Detroit so strongly Democratic that she was elected unopposed in November.
On her first day in Congress she drew controversy for a fiery speech she gave about Mr Trump.
'We gonna go in there and
impeach the motherf---er
,' she said.
Who is Ilhan Omar?
Along with Ms Tlaib,
was the first Muslim woman to be elected to Congress.
Ms Omar was born in Somalia but fled during the civil war, arriving in the USA in 1992.
She now represents a district in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after being voted in last year.
As a hijab-wearing black woman,
Ms Omar has been subject to particularly nasty internet rumours
, including that she married her own brother.
She has spoken sharply in criticism of Israel, with several comments of hers labelled as anti-Semitic.
Who is Ayanna Pressley?
was elected to a seat in Boston, Massachusetts after ousting long-time incumbent Michael Capuano in the primary.
A heavily Democratic district that was previously represented by John F. Kennedy, Ms Pressley ran unopposed in the general election.
The win made her the first African-American woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts.
In her primary victory speech, she declared Mr Trump a 'racist, misogynistic, truly empathy-bankrupt man'.
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