Members of Both Parties Criticize Trump’s Vulgar Immigration Remark

After White House initially doesn’t deny accounts, Trump tweets early Friday that he didn’t say it

President Donald Trump early Friday said that he didn’t call Haiti and African countries “shithole countries” despite multiple media reports of accounts from lawmakers who were in a meeting about immigration policy. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Members of both parties roundly criticized President Donald Trump after the Washington Post reported he called Haiti and African countries “shithole countries.”

The White House did not initially deny that Trump made the remarks in a bipartisan meeting about immigration.

But Friday morning, after the controversy had brewed through the night, the president tweeted that he didn’t use those words.

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who is retiring, said he wants “a detailed explanation” of the president’s remarks. The Utah Republican, who is considered an ally and has spoken positively of the president, said “part of what makes America so special is that we welcome the best the brightest in the world, regardless of country of origin.”

Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York was more vocal in his criticism, repeating his name for Trump that he is the “Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.” in reference to the term for leaders of the Ku Klux Klan.

Rep. Cedric Richmond, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said it reinforced that “that the President’s slogan Make America Great Again is really code for Make America White Again.”

“All of the reservations we have had about negotiating with him on immigration are well-founded,” he said in a statement. “President Trump is clearly more concerned with ending the future flow of immigrants from Africa and the African diaspora than providing relief to Dreamers who came here through no fault of their own.”

Watch: Trump’s 2018 Legislative Agenda is Already Slipping

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the remark was “shameful, abhorrent, unpresidental, and deserves our strongest condemnation.”

“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus calls on every member of Congress to reject this vile statement, which erodes the moral fiber that binds us together as Americans,” she said in a statement.

Members from Florida, the state with the largest Haitian population, also criticized Trump’s remarks.

Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring after this term, tweeted Trump’s remarks ignored the contributions Haitian-Americans make to Southern Florida. 

The state’s Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who is up for re-election this cycle, tweeted “[t]he President should represent all people, not just selected favorites” and Trump’s remarks.

Sen. Marco Rubio was more muted in his criticism in a stream of tweets, praising the Haitian and Salvadoran communities in Florida while not mentioning Trump by name.

Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen of Minnesota called Trump’s remarks “inappropriate” and “degrading.”

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who is also retiring and has been a frequent critic of Trump, tweeted that his ancestors “came from countries not nearly as prosperous as the one we live in today.”


But Trump did have some defenders, like Rep. Steve King, who has himself said inflammatory remarks about immigrants in the past.

"If those countries aren’t as you described, Democrats should be happy to deport criminal aliens back to them," King tweeted.

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York somewhat defended Trump's remarks, saying that Trump "wasn't elected for his ability or willingness to be politically correct" but also said many countries "have certain aspects of culture, tradition, values, & religion, that can be emulated the world over."




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