Trump denies he used vulgarity to describe African countries

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 11: U.S. President Donald Trump leads a prison reform roundtable in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, on January 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — In bluntly vulgar language, President Donald Trump questioned Thursday why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa rather than places like Norway, as he rejected a bipartisan immigration deal, according to people briefed on the extraordinary Oval Office conversation. Trump on Friday denied using that language.

Trump’s contemptuous description of an entire continent startled lawmakers in the meeting and immediately revived charges that the president is racist. The White House did not deny his remark but issued a statement saying Trump supports immigration policies that welcome “those who can contribute to our society.”

Yet Trump himself tweeted Friday: “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.” He went on to criticize the immigration deal, saying: “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!”

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the president’s tweet.

Trump’s comments Thursday came as two senators presented details of a bipartisan compromise that would extend protections against deportation for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants — and also strengthen border protections, as Trump has insisted.

The lawmakers had hoped Trump would back their accord, an agreement among six senators evenly split among Republicans and Democrats, ending a monthslong, bitter dispute over protecting the “dreamers.” But the White House later rejected it, plunging the issue back into uncertainty just eight days before a deadline that threatens a government shutdown.

Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’ s No. 2 Democrat, explained that as part of that deal, a lottery for visas that has benefited people from Africa and other nations would be ended, the sources said, though there could be another way for them to apply. Durbin said people who would be allowed to stay in the U.S. included those who had fled here after disasters hit their homes in places such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Haiti.

Trump specifically questioned why the U.S. would want to admit more people from Haiti. As for Africa, he asked why more people from “shithole countries” should be allowed into the U.S., the sources said.

The president suggested that instead, the U.S. should allow more entrants from countries like Norway. Trump met this week with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Asked about the remarks, White House spokesman Raj Shah did not deny them.

“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” he said.

Trump’s remarks were remarkable even by the standards of a president who has been accused of racism by his foes and who has routinely smashed through public decorum that his modern predecessors have generally embraced.

Trump has inaccurately claimed that Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, wasn’t born in the United States. He has said Mexican immigrants were “bringing crime” and were “rapists.” He said there were “very fine people on both sides” after violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, left one counter-protester dead.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said, “President Trump’s comments are racist and a disgrace.” But it wasn’t just Democrats objecting.

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.” She said, “This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation” and called on Trump to apologize to the American people “and the nations he so wantonly maligned.”

Trump has called himself the “least racist person that you’ve ever met.”

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly describe the conversation. One said lawmakers in the room were taken aback by Trump’s remarks.

The Trump administration announced late last year that it would end a temporary residency permit program that allowed nearly 60,000 citizens from Haiti to live and work in the United States following a devastating 2010 earthquake.

Trump has spoken positively about Haitians in public. During a 2016 campaign event in Miami, he said “the Haitian people deserve better” and told the audience of Haitian-Americans he wanted to “be your greatest champion, and I will be your champion.”

The agreement that Durbin and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., described to Trump also includes his $1.6 billion request for a first installment on his long-sought border wall, aides familiar with the agreement said. They required anonymity because the agreement is not yet public.

Trump’s request covers 74 miles of border wall as part of a 10-year, $18 billion proposal.

Democrats had long vowed they wouldn’t fund the wall but are accepting the opening request as part of a broader plan that protects from deportation about 800,000 “Dreamers.” The deal also would include restrictions on a program allowing immigrants to bring some relatives to the U.S.

In an afternoon of drama and confusing developments, four other GOP lawmakers — including hardliners on immigration — were also in Trump’s office for Thursday’s meeting, a development sources said Durbin and Graham did not expect. It was unclear why the four Republicans were there, and the session did not produce the results the two senators were hoping for.

“There has not been a deal reached yet,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. But she added, “We feel like we’re close.”

Underscoring the hurdles facing the effort, other Republicans undercut the significance of the deal the half-dozen senators hoped to sell to Trump.

“How do six people bind the other 94 in the Senate? I don’t get that,” said No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn of Texas.

The six senators have been meeting for months to find a way to revive protections for the “Dreamers.” Trump ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last year but has given Congress until March 5 to find a way to keep it alive.

Federal agencies will run out of money and have to shut down if lawmakers don’t pass legislation extending their financing by Jan. 19. Some Democrats are threatening to withhold their votes — which Republicans will need to push that legislation through Congress — unless an immigration accord is reached.

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    • On It

      Just depends on which USA being referred to. Trump represents my USA, without political correctness. Others may prefer to see the USA as part of the weakened new world order, where there is no where left to turn. Have a nice day.

      • Wings

        Your comment makes me throw up, you have to wake up and smell the roses. Trumpy boy is destroying the USA. Other countries do not even want him in their country. His policies are raking us back fifty years not forward .
        Think before you comment and do YOUR research.

        • Kevin Rahe

          If “forward” is science-denying decisions like Roe v. Wade, forgetting what marriage is and why it exists and forcing nuns to promote contraceptives to their employees, we are probably much better off going back 50 years.

        • Clucko

          Hey, Wings. In a lot of ways but not all, taking us back fifty yeas would be a huge improvement. I don’t know if you were even around then, but if you were and you’re being honest with yourself you might understand that.

  • RG

    News story citing anomymous sources that Trumps said something. Yet people in the meeting, like Sen. Durbin, haven’t confirmed Trumps words. If Trump really said “s***hole, I’m sure Durbin would be saying something.

  • Clucko

    “Shithole countries” is pretty accurate. What would anyone of normal intelligence call a continent that gave us AIDS, Ebola, Dengue Fever, Hepatitis, and….? Paradise?

  • Kevin Rahe

    I simply don’t trust the mainstream news media to report on a matter completely anymore. Whatever ill thoughts President Trump may have about a foreign country, I’m sure they’re directed primarily at its leadership (or lack thereof) rather than its citizens. Even if Trump used the alleged language, I don’t know why I should consider it worse than Hillary Clinton calling half of America’s citizens “deplorables.”

    I would like to see our leaders (current as well as aspiring) work back toward a climate of civility, which I think is necessary if government is ever going to accomplish anything meaningful. But civility can’t manifest – let alone last – unless it’s anchored by honesty and a genuine desire for the common good of all people (which is not the same thing as everyone getting everything they want). If there are leaders in this country who encompass those things, they’re not getting any attention (or at least complete reporting) by the mainstream news media.

  • Old Bob

    Trump said what many people think Sure there are great people of color here in the US and in other countries. If it wasn’t for the fact that 62% of the crime in the US is committed by people of color, that represent only 13% of the population. People wouldn’t think this way. What is the answer, I don’t know.

  • Go Mega!

    He’s a real president. Not like Obama who cared about one thing, himself.
    Impeach trump…lol..thats funny. If Obama and the Libs din’t get impeached there is no way Trump will be.
    BTW, have you noticed how the economy had grown? stock market up? lowest black unemployment in decades?
    But you Libs just keep wearing those p*ssy hats and chanting. lol

  • Shabadoo Simmons

    As if Norwegians would want to slum it here in a country with a lower standard of living and happiness. Also our Sh#t hole president… They have saner and more humble leaders.

  • Dimitry

    I’d have more respect for him if he just manned up and admitted what that he said it. He has a proven track record for saying stuff like this, just admit it and move on.

  • Old Bob

    It might be time for the United States to only let people come here to live that will be an asset to the US and not a burden on the tax payers. How long can we continue to support the worlds less fortunate.

  • local weather for yesterday

    Most third-world countries have better health care than the U.S, largely due to the fact that we cling to the capitalist system of health-care for profit. It’s a business, like any other enterprise, and everyone has their hand out, from the doctors to the hospitals to the insurers to the drug companies and so on. The whole world knows this, so don’t expect a sudden rush for our shores.