According to NPR, Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin contested U.S. President Trump’s denial of using vulgar language to describe countries in Africa and saying that he would prefer immigrants from countries like Norway instead.
During an Oval Office meeting held earlier this week, President Trump questioned the U.S. decision to accept more migrants from Haiti and other “shithole” countries in Africa, U.S. News reported. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump allegedly said, according to the people present at the meeting. The Washington Post then reported that Trump suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met with on Wednesday. According to a White House official, and as cited in the Washington Post, the President also suggested he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries because he felt that they help the United States economically. “Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump also added, according to people familiar with the meeting. “Take them out.”
The meeting was held in order to present a new bipartisan immigration deal to the President, people briefed on the Oval Office conversation said. During the meeting, six-person Senate group, which included Flake; Graham; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Cory Gardner, R-Colo.; and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., presented their agreement to the President.Trump’s “shithole” comment that followed quickly caught fire and was widely criticized both by the media and other world leaders.
Trump’s “shithole” comments, first reported by The Washington Post, were neither confirmed nor denied by the White House, with spokesman Raj Shah staying relatively ambiguous about the comments the President allegedly made.
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” spokesman Raj Shah said to the Washington Post. “Like 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.”
However, earlier on Friday, President Trump shifted gears and denied allegations about making the “shithole” comment. “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” Trump said in a tweet. “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!”
Soon after that, Trump then denied saying “anything derogatory” about Haiti or Haitians. “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!” He tweeted later in the day.
Trump’s “shithole” comment met with an almost universal disdain
Republican Rep. Mia Love of Utah, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, said Trump’s comments were “unkind, divisive, elitist and fly in the face of our nation‘s values,” U.S. News reported. “This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation,” she said in a statement, calling on Trump to apologize to the American people and the nations “he so wantonly maligned.”
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said, “President Trump’s comments are racist and a disgrace.” Sen. Tim Scot of South Caroline and Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma called the President’s comments “disappointing.” Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-New Jersey, tweeted “Once again, @POTUS has made a fool of himself & our nation on a worldwide stage.”
President Trump’s “shithole” comment also caused widespread outrage outside of the U.S. U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville condemned Trump’s remarks as “shocking and shameful,” saying that they go against the world’s “universal values.”
Former Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said, “SHAME ON TRUMP! “The world is witnessing a new low today” and called Trump’s remarks “totally unacceptable!” Joining in on the parade of profanity that seems to be plaguing world politics, Vicente Fox, former Mexican President and a longtime Trump critic, said the US leader’s mouth “is the foulest shithole in the world.”
In the wake of President Trump’s alleged “shithole” comments, the focus has quickly shifted away from the contents of the proposed DACA deal, which is bound to affect roughly 800,000 immigrants who now reside in the U.S. illegally after being brought to the country as children.
With Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin confirming to NPR and multiple other media outlets that President Trump indeed made the alleged “shithole” comment, there seems to be no shortage of media attention surrounding this issue.
“The president erupted several times with questions, and in the course of his comments, said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist,” the senator told reporters. “I use those words advisably. I understand how powerful they are. But I cannot believe that in the history of the White House and in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday. You’ve seen the comments in the press. I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate.”
Trying to find the middle ground between distancing both themselves and the party from the President’s statements, but avoiding any direct criticism of the President himself, other GOP lawmakers issued very vague statements.
Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar told NPR’s Morning Edition that he “can’t condone vocabulary that another person actually utilizes in that aspect.” However, he also added, “I also understand the president is not a career politician and may say things that aren’t politically incorrect. Any word can be utilized in an offensive aspect.”