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Donald Trump has said anyone unhappy with life in the US can leave the country amid a row over "disgraceful" and "disgusting" tweets about a number of Democrat congresswomen.

The US president has faced a barrage of criticism for the tweets in which he said female Democrat politicians should "go back and help fix" their "broken and crime-infested countries", with UK Prime Minister Theresa May calling the comments "completely unacceptable".

But Mr Trump, 73, came out on the attack during a manufacturing showcase at the White House, telling people who disagree with his approach: "If you're not happy in the US, if you're complaining all the time, you can leave."

'Trump has a strategy to divide the country'

He received a warm applause from supporters when he made the comment, and angrily shouted down a journalist as she tried to ask whether he was concerned that his tweets had been seen as racist.

The president repeatedly told her to "be quiet" as he continued to double down on his controversial rhetoric, and insisted some people had enjoyed his earlier diatribe on Twitter.

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Mr Trump did not name anyone specifically in the original posts on Sunday, but one of those he appeared to be referring to was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, who was born in New York but is of Puerto Rican descent.

Speaking to Sky's Amanda Walker, Ms Ocasio-Cortez said: "It is unfortunate that he feels the way he feels about people of colour in this country, about immigrants in this country, naturalised citizens or not, and it's time to move on from him and his conception of an America that we have tried to move past for a long time.

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"He relies on racism, division and anti-immigrant sentiment to consolidate power because he does not have a positive vision for the future of America."

The other congresswomen Mr Trump seemed to be targeting in his tweets were Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, Rasida Tlaib, of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts.

All are US citizens and only Ms Omar, originally from Somalia, is foreign-born.

The four are holding a press conference in Washington on Monday evening to offer further response to the "openly racist comments attacking duly elected members of Congress".

From left: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley are likely to be three of those targeted in Mr Trump's tweets
Image: From left: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley

The tweets said: "So interesting to see 'Progessive' 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… now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government should be run.

"Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."

In a follow-up tweet, the president said they should apologise for the "foul language they have used" and "terrible things they have said", and that it was "so sad" Democrats had come out in support of the women.

He also went on to attack Ms Ocasio-Cortez directly, calling her and "this crowd" a "bunch of Communists" and "antisemitic" for comparing migrant detention centres to concentration camps.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Image: Ms Ocasio-Cortez has said it is 'time for America to move on' from the presidency of Donald Trump

In response, the Democrat – who was elected last year – said his comments were the "hallmark of white supremacists" and that he was leading the Republican Party into "outright racism".

Ms Ocasio-Cortez told Sky News: "I think there's a strategy to divide the country, because the more this country is divided, the more he benefits from it.

"He does not believe in a prosperous future for our country. He believes that everything is a threat."

Ilhan Omar has accused the president of 'stoking white nationalism'
Image: Ilhan Omar is one of four congresswomen caught up in the row

Ms Omar tweeted that the president was "stoking white nationalism" because of anger that he was facing opposition to his "hate-filled agenda", and Ms Tlaib said he "needs to be impeached".

Senior figures in the Democrat Party have also criticised Mr Trump, with presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren describing his original tweets as a "racist and xenophobic attack".

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the tweet had shown his plan was about "making America white again".

In a letter sent to party colleagues on Monday, Ms Pelosi said the president "went beyond his own low standards" by using "disgraceful" and "disgusting" language against the congresswomen.

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