President Trump disputes reports of remarks on Haiti
Amid a torrent of outraged criticism from around the country and the world, President Trump disputed multiple reports that he referred to Haiti as a ‚Äúshithole‚ÄĚ country during an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers on Thursday about U.S. immigration policy.
‚ÄúNever said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country,‚ÄĚ Trump tweeted early Friday morning. ‚ÄúNever said ‚Äėtake them out.‚Äô Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings ‚ÄĒ unfortunately, no trust!‚ÄĚ
Earlier, the president did not deny using ‚Äútough‚ÄĚ language at the meeting, which was focused on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama-era immigration program that was rescinded by the Trump administration last year. But Trump suggested he did not make the ‚Äúshithole‚ÄĚ remark as reported.
‚ÄúThe language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,‚ÄĚ he tweeted. ‚ÄúWhat was really tough was the outlandish proposal made ‚ÄĒ a big setback for DACA!‚ÄĚ
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who was among the lawmakers at the meeting, refuted Trump‚Äôs denials.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôve seen the comments in the press. I‚Äôve not read one of them that‚Äôs inaccurate,‚ÄĚ Durbin told reporters on Friday. ‚ÄúTo no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning denying that he used those words. It‚Äôs not true. He said these hateful things, and he said them repeatedly.‚ÄĚ
GOP Sens. David Perdue and Tom Cotton, who were also in the room, issued a joint statement saying they ‚Äúdo not recall the president saying these comments specifically.‚ÄĚ But Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said that fellow South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham ‚ÄĒ who was in the room too ‚ÄĒ told him the reported comments are ‚Äúbasically accurate.‚ÄĚ
Graham subsequently issued a statement saying he confronted Trump over the remarks.
‚ÄúFollowing comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday,‚ÄĚ Graham said. ‚ÄúThe President and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel.‚ÄĚ
On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that Trump ‚Äúgrew frustrated‚ÄĚ with lawmakers while discussing a possible bipartisan deal protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries earlier in the day.
‚ÄúWhy are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?‚ÄĚ Trump said, according to the newspaper, which cited ‚Äúseveral people briefed on the meeting.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWhy do we need more Haitians?‚ÄĚ Trump continued. ‚ÄúTake them out.‚ÄĚ
According to the Post, Trump suggested that the U.S. ‚Äúshould instead bring more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met with‚ÄĚ the day before.
On Thursday night, the White House did not deny Trump made the disparaging comments.
‚ÄúCertain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,‚ÄĚ deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement to the Post. ‚ÄúLike other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.‚ÄĚ
According to CNN‚Äôs Jake Tapper, though, Trump did not refer to Haiti as a ‚Äúshithole‚ÄĚ country, but did refer to African countries that way.
‚ÄúThere was a conflation of two different remarks by the president,‚ÄĚ Tapper explained in a series of tweets, citing a ‚Äúsource familiar with the meeting.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúFirst, when talking about ‚Äėtemporary protected status‚Äô countries as part of the immigration deal it was mentioned that Salvadorans, Hondurans and Haitians have that status. ‚ÄėHaitians?‚Äô the president said. ‚ÄėWhy do we need more Haitians? Take them out‚Äô ‚ÄĒ meaning take them out of the deal. Then in a separate part of the conversation when they were referencing the diversity visa lottery, President Trump referred to people coming from Africa as coming from ‚Äėshithole countries.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
The Post report about Trump‚Äôs comments during Thursday‚Äôs meeting drew widespread condemnation from all sides. At an event in Milwaukee on Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan called Trump‚Äôs comments ‚Äúunfortunate‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúunhelpful.‚ÄĚ Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, whose family came from Haiti, said Trump‚Äôs comments are ‚Äúunkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation‚Äôs values. This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúPresident Trump‚Äôs comments are yet another confirmation of his racially insensitive and ignorant views,‚ÄĚ Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in a statement. ‚ÄúIt also reinforces the concerns that we hear every day, that the President‚Äôs slogan Make America Great Again is really code for Make America White Again.‚ÄĚ At the top of his CNN show Thursday night, host Don Lemon called Trump a ‚Äúracist.‚ÄĚ In a statement, Sen.