Two Republican senators who were present at a Thursday meeting with President Donald Trump have said the American leader did not use the phrase “shithole countries” in rejecting migrants from Africa, Haiti and El Salvador.
David Perdue, a senator from Georgia, said on ABC’s ‘ThIsWeek’ that Richard Durbin, a Democratic senator who had told the media that Mr. Trump made the comments, committed “a gross misrepresentation.”
“I didn’t hear that word either,” said Tom Cotton, another Republican senator, on CBS’s “Face the Nation” this Sunday. “And I was sitting no further away from Donald Trump than Dick Durbin was.”
Mr. Trump reportedly singled out Haiti, El Salvador and parts of Africa as “shithole countries” during a meeting with U.S. lawmakers about immigration Thursday, according to the Washington Post.
The comments came during a White House meeting held to explore a bipartisan immigration deal, said the Washington Post, which broke the news.
The paper reported that Mr. Trump favoured immigrants from Norway and Asia, saying they help the country economically.
But he wondered “why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
“Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out,” the Washington Post quoted Mr. Trump as venting.
But the president denied ever describing any race as coming from “shithole countries” in a Friday morning tweet.
“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!” Mr. Trump said.
The controversy came about three weeks after the New York Times reported that Mr. Trump slammed Nigerians during a June 2017 cabinet meeting that they don’t “go back to their huts” once they enter America.
The paper also said Mr. Trump castigated Haitians as people living with AIDS and Afghanistan as a terrorist-infested country.
The White House denied the comments at the time, saying Mr. Trump did not slander any country.
Mr. Trump’s latest comments drew worldwide outrage this weekend, especially leaders from black countries.
Mr. Trump’s critics also played up statistics that show how African migrants in the U.S. have higher number of bachelor’s degree holders than Americans themselves.
“The language of @realDonaldTrump that the African continent, Haiti and El Salvador are “shithole countries” is extremely unfortunate,” said Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo in a tweet Saturday afternoon.
“We are certainly not a “shithole country”. We will not accept such insults, even from a leader of a friendly country, no matter how powerful.”
But senators on Mr. Trump’s platform rallied around him on Sunday, with Mr. Cotton saying Mr. Durbin “has a history of misrepresenting what happens in White House meetings” during his ‘Face the Nation’ appearance.
A spokesperson for Mr. Durbin quickly pushed back against the comments of Messrs. Perdue and Cotton in a Twitter updateSunday afternoon.
“Credibility is something that’s built by being consistently honest over time,” Ben Marter wrote on Twitter. “Senator Durbin has it. Senator Perdue does not. Ask anyone who’s dealt with both.”
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