Politics

He Said, He Said: Lawmakers in Trump Meeting Appalled — Or ‘Don’t Recall’

Trump’s reference to ‘shithole countries’ sets off a s---storm

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, left, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham were both in a meeting with President Donald Trump when he reportedly referred to African nations and Haiti as “shithole countries.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 2:41 p.m.| Members of Congress who were in the meeting when President Donald Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” have different memories of what happened.

The Washington Post reported that Trump asked Thursday why “all these people from shithole countries” were coming to the United States, alluding to Haiti and countries in Africa.

The White House did not initially deny the remarks but Trump later denied using the controversial words in a tweet.

Below are the responses from members who were in the meeting.

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin confirmed that he heard Trump make the remarks he said were “were hate-filled, vile and racist.” The Illinois Democrat said, “I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.”

Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia released a joint statement: “We do not recall the President saying these comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest.”

Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida essentially avoided discussing the remarks, saying in a tweet, “I will not be diverted from all possible efforts to continue negotiating to stop deportations.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina issued a statement that didn’t reveal much: “Following comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday. The President and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel. I’ve always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals.”

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have so far not commented on the remarks.

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