President Trump’s early-Friday denial that he used vulgar language in reference to immigration from certain countries only fueled the Capitol Hill furor over the remarks, with one leading Democrat standing by press accounts and accusing the president of using “hate-filled” language.
Two Republicans, meanwhile, said they could “not recall” the president using the language — following reports that he questioned why the U.S. was taking immigrants from “s—hole” countries.
In a flurry of tweets Friday morning, Trump had both defended his immigration stance while claiming the reports about his meeting with senators were inaccurate.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!” Trump tweeted early Friday.
But Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who was in the room, later told reporters the accounts of Trump’s comments were accurate.
“He said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly,” Durbin said, calling the words “vile and racist.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a prominent GOP critic of the president, also tweeted that, “The words used by the President, as related to me directly following the meeting by those in attendance, were not ‘tough,’ they were abhorrent and repulsive.”
Yet Sens. David Perdue, R-Ga., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., seemed to back the president in a written statement saying:
“President Trump brought everyone to the table this week and listened to both sides. But regrettably, it seems that not everyone is committed to negotiating in good faith. In regards to Senator Durbin’s accusation, 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.”
The “language” the president referred to came during talks Thursday with lawmakers at the White House. Despite Trump’s denial, multiple sources have confirmed what was said, and the White House did not deny it overnight.
“Why are we having all these people from s—hole countries come here?” the president said, according to sources. Trump reportedly was talking about countries in Africa, while also questioning why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti.
Durbin added, “When the question was asked about Haitians … he said, `Haitians? Do we need more Haitians?”‘
Trump took particular issue with the characterization of his comments on Haiti.
“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!” Trump tweeted.
The accounts of the meeting drew condemnation from global leaders as well as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.