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Trump and Democratic Congresswomen trade barbs, new asylum restrictions & Apollo 11: The Morning Rundown

‘A disruptive distraction’: 'The Squad' responds to Trump's attacks.
Image: Representatives  Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley attend a press conference to address remarks made by President Donald Trump.
Representatives Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley attend a press conference to address remarks made by President Donald Trump.Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump and a group of Democratic congresswoman trade barbs while the White House plows ahead with what advocates say are the most restrictive immigration efforts yet.

Here's what we're watching today.

‘A disruptive distraction’: Congresswomen and Trump war of words

The four progressive congresswomen who have been the target of Trump's Twitter ire shot back at him during a joint news conference Monday, saying his “blatantly racist” assault on them was nothing more than an effort to distract from his "corrupt" administration.

"This is the agenda of white nationalists," said Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., urged Americans not to "take the bait" from the president. "This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people."

But the president dug in further on Monday, accusing the female lawmakers of "hating" the United States and Israel and loving terrorists.

"These are people who in my opinion hate our country," Trump said outside the White House Monday. "All I'm saying is, if they’re not happy here, they can leave." (Video)

In a rare rebuke, some Republicans have called Trump's remarks "unacceptable" and "wrong." But GOP leaders have mostly kept mum.

News analysis: The president's incendiary comments are achieving exactly what he has set out to do: Stick the Democratic Party to the fringe he's labeled as "socialists," NBC News' Jonathan Allen writes.

The president's own tweets tell the story: "The Dems were trying to distance themselves from the four 'progressives,'" he tweeted — "but now they are forced to embrace them."

New asylum restrictions are 'most egregious,' 'extreme' to date, advocates say

The Trump administration announced Monday it will move to end asylum protections for most Central American migrants in the government’s latest major attempt to restrict the influx of migrant families coming to the United States.

The new rule says asylum-seekers at the southern border who pass through another country and do not seek asylum there will not be eligible for the protection in the U.S., according to a statement from the departments of Justice and Homeland Security.

Immigrant rights advocates and attorneys immediately denounced the proposed policy.

The rule would "fundamentally eviscerate the right to territorial asylum in the United States," Charanya Krishnaswami, advocacy director for the Americas for Amnesty International, said.

Iran is open to negotiations — if Trump lifts economic sanctions

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday his country does not want a war with the United States but said Trump must lift harsh economic sanctions on Tehran to clear the way for negotiations.

"Once those sanctions are lifted, then ... the room for negotiation is wide open," Zarif said during an interview with NBC Nightly News’ Lester Holt.

The array of sanctions the Trump administration has imposed since 2017 have slashed the country’s oil exports and severely damaged its economy.

Zarif also said Iran had no interest in securing a nuclear arsenal, though it could have built the bomb if it wanted to.

"Had we been interested in developing nuclear weapons, we would have been able to do it long time ago," he said.

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One fun thing

50 years ago today, the Apollo 11 astronauts set off on their landmark moon mission.

While 600 million people around the world watched on live television as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took those historic first footsteps on the moon, there are still some intriguing details from the mission that remain largely unknown or poorly understood.

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Thanks, Petra