Senator Insists Trump Used ‘Vile and Racist’ Language
Posted January 12, 2018 12:32 p.m. EST
Updated January 12, 2018 12:36 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday offered a vague denial about the language he chose to use about immigrants during a private meeting with lawmakers at the White House on Thursday, when he reportedly referred to African nations as “shithole countries.”
But Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Friday that the president did use the term “shithole,” during the course of the meeting on immigration — which Durbin attended. The senator described Trump as saying “things which were hate-filled, vile and racist.”
In a Twitter post on Friday, just hours before the president signed a proclamation to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is Monday, Trump appeared to parse the language he used when he spoke about immigrants from different regions of the world.
The president wrote that he never said of Haitians, “take them out.”
The Twitter post was his second about news accounts of a private meeting Thursday at the White House. The president denied some aspects of reports on his language — but he did not comment on his reported use of the specific word “shithole” to describe African nations.
“It’s not true,” Durbin said of Trump’s denial. “He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.”
Trump tweeted that his comments about Haitians were fabricated by Democrats, and said he “probably should record future meetings — unfortunately, no trust!”
In a discussion about immigration from African nations, Trump asked why he would want “all these people from shithole countries,” according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation. Trump also said the United States should admit more people from places like Norway, an overwhelmingly white country.
“Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump said, according to several news accounts, including The Washington Post. “Take them out.”
The White House has not denied his use of racially charged rhetoric, either.
“I cannot believe that, in the history of the White House in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday,” Durbin said Friday.
After Trump signed the proclamation for Martin Luther King Jr. Day later Friday morning, the president ignored a question from a reporter about whether he is a racist.
In an earlier tweet Friday, Trump said, “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.” His tweet did not elaborate on what “tough” language he used and did not provide a specific account of the meeting.
The president’s Twitter posts Friday morning referred to the meeting with lawmakers a day earlier about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, the Obama-era effort that provided temporary work permits and reprieves from deportation to immigrants brought to the United States as children by their parents.
Trump’s reported remarks are the latest example of the president’s use of racially tinged language about immigrants. In a private meeting in June of last year, Trump said immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS.”
The president’s first Twitter post Friday morning did not address the language he used, but instead called the immigration deal that would protect undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children “a big step backwards.”
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., criticized Trump’s comments about Haitians.
“Language like that shouldn’t be heard in locker rooms and it shouldn’t be heard in the White House,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a Twitter post.
The president’s thoughts on immigration sprawled through several Twitter posts Friday morning before he tweeted his denials about some of the language he used at the DACA meeting.
The president met Thursday with Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Durbin. The senators are working to codify the protections in DACA.