US President Donald Trump says he doesn't have a racist bone in his body as he urged fellow Republicans not to condemn his controversial tweets.
The United States House of Representatives has approved a resolution condemning "racist comments" by President Donald Trump.
Top Republican leaders rallied around Mr Trump, but four members of the president's party voted with the 235 Democrats to condemn him for "racist comments that have legitimised and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of colour."
One independent politician also supported the measure, which takes aim at Mr Trump's weekend tweets telling a group of progressive Democratic congresswomen of color to "go back" to other countries.
The text "strongly condemns President Trump's racist comments" and also took the president to task for "referring to immigrants and asylum seekers as 'invaders.'"
Democrats hold a majority in the 435-member House but are outnumbered by Republicans in the Senate, where the resolution is unlikely to be considered.
Earlier, Mr Trump pressured his Republican colleagues to stand by him amid the backlash against his racially charged attacks on four Democratic congresswomen.
Outrage over Mr Trump's Sunday tweetstorm - in which he told four prominent minority Democratic congresswomen to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" - has since diverted attention from all other business in Washington.
The four congresswomen - all but one of whom were born in the US - are of Hispanic, Arab, Somali and African-American descent.
Mr Trump stuck by the provocative comments Monday and again Tuesday.
"Our Country is Free, Beautiful and Very Successful. If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!" the president tweeted.
Only a handful of Republican politicians have spoken out against Mr Trump's tweets about the congresswomen, doing so in muted tones.
"These are our sisters," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of the four politicians targeted by Mr Trump, who are in their first terms in Congress, during a closed caucus meeting on Tuesday, according to an aide who was present.
Prior to the vote, Ms Pelosi said she hoped some Republicans would support the resolution.
"If they can’t support condemning the words of the president, well, that’s a message in and of itself," she said.
Slamming the "so-called vote" as a "Democrat con game," Mr Trump urged his fellow Republicans not to "show 'weakness' and fall into their trap."
"Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don't have a Racist bone in my body!" he said.
"This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat Congresswomen, who I truly believe, based on their actions, hate our Country," the president wrote.
"Nancy Pelosi tried to push them away, but now they are forever wedded to the Democrat Party," the president added, in a jab at the House speaker who has had a tenuous relationship with the four left-leaning first-term congresswomen.
'President is not a racist'
Mr Trump has a history of what critics consider race-baiting. He led a movement that falsely claimed former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and he said after a deadly, white supremacist-led rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that "both sides" were to blame for violence there.
On Tuesday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that he thought "everybody ought to tone down their rhetoric" and focus on issues, but he stopped short of condemning Trump's remarks.
"The president is not a racist and I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country but it's coming from all different ideological points of view," r McConnell said.
When the vote was announced, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said he would encourage his members to vote against the resolution condemning Mr Trump.
"It's all politics," he told reporters.
Mr Trump later retweeted Mr McCarthy's comments and thanked him.
Mr Trump's attacks on the four progressive congresswomen -known as "the squad" - have been viewed as an effort to divide the Democrats, who won control of the House of Representatives in 2018 and have the power to thwart his legislative agenda.
Mr Trump has sought to highlight proposals from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which he calls extreme, as he seeks to attract moderates - and energise his political base - ahead of the November 2020 presidential elections.
Mr Trump was asked by reporters at the White House where he thought the four American politicians should go.
"It's up to them. Do what they want. They can leave. They can stay. But they should love our country, and they should work for the good of our country," Trump said, adding complaints about some of their past remarks.
Earlier, the president had warned Republicans on Twitter against voting against him. "Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body! The so-called vote to be taken is a Democrat con game. Republicans should not show 'weakness' and
fall into their trap."
In response, Ms Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: "You’re right, Mr. President - you don’t have a racist bone in your body. You have a racist mind in your head, and a racist heart in your chest."
Immediately after the House vote a Democratic congressman, Al Green of Texas, filed articles of impeachment against the president.
Dozens of other Democratic members of the House have reportedly called for an impeachment inquiry to be opened against the president but Ms Pelosi, the House speaker, has said she does not favor such a move at the moment.