US President Donald Trump has redoubled his attack on four Democratic congresswomen, accusing them of “hating our country”.
“If you are not happy, if you are complaining all the time, you can leave,” he told a heated news conference outside the White House.
On Sunday Mr Trump called on the women, who are from ethnically diverse backgrounds, to “go back”.
He was widely accused of racism and xenophobia, which he denied.
Mr Trump first sparked a furore in a series of tweets on Sunday in which he said the women “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe”.
“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,” he wrote.
He did not explicitly name the women, but the context made a clear link.
The four – US-born Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar, who came to the US as a refugee aged 12 – all called the president racist and were backed by members of the Democratic Party.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx in New York, about 12 miles (19km) away from the Queens hospital where Mr Trump was born.
What did Trump say?
“These are people that in my opinion hate our country,” President Trump told reporters on Monday.
“As far as I’m concerned if you hate our country, if you’re not happy here, you can leave. You can leave right now. I don’t know who’s going to miss ’em,” he said, to applause from some in the audience.
Asked by a reporter if he was concerned that his tweets had been seen by some as racist, Mr Trump said he was not.
“It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me,” he added.
Mr Trump lashed out particularly at Ms Omar, saying she “hates Israel” and “hates Jews”, as well as suggesting she supported the jihadist group al-Qaeda.
“I don’t know, I never met her, I hear the way she talks about al-Qaeda,” Mr Trump said. Read more