Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) went on the record on Friday to say that President Donald Trump did call African nations “shitholes” and further insisted that the president’s comments were “hate-filled, vile and racist.”
Durbin, one of the “Gang of Six” who authored the new immigration deal being proposed, attended the bipartisan meeting with Trump at the White House on Thursday, as the senators gathered with the president to discuss a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“In the course of his comments, he said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist,” Durbin told reporters Friday. “I understand how powerful [those words] are, but I cannot believe 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.”
The Washington Post and other outlets reported Thursday that during the discussion on a DACA deal, an obviously frustrated Trump questioned why the U.S. is “having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
At the time, the president was reportedly criticizing a plan from the Gang of Six senators, who want to reinstate the temporary protected status programs for refugees coming to the U.S. from El Salvador, Haiti, and some African nations.
Durbin told reporters Friday that, of the press reports that have included the president’s comments, “I have not read one of them that’s inaccurate.”
He went on to recall the conversation the senators had with Trump. While discussing the TPS programs, Durbin said he told Trump that those primarily impacted by TPS were from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti.
“When I mentioned that fact to him, he said, ‘Haitians? Do we need more Haitians?’” Durbin recalled. “And then he went on and he started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. That’s when he used the vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from ‘shitholes.’ The exact word used by the president, not just once, but repeatedly.”
Trump’s reported comments triggered outrage among Democratic and Republican lawmakers, who are calling on the President to apologize.
In tweets Friday morning, Trump denied making derogatory remarks about Haiti, and accused Democrats of fabricating his comments.
“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.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018