President Donald Trump on Friday morning apparently denied reports that he used the term "s**thole" to describe Haiti, El Salvador and African nations in a White House meeting the previous day — but Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) said he was in the room with Trump and that the reports are accurate.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used," Trump tweeted Friday. "What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!”
The Washington Post reported that Trump used the term "s**thole" in an Oval Office meeting Thursday in regard to people from Haiti, El Salvador and African nations and a bipartisan immigration deal.
“Why are we having all these people from s**thole countries come here?” Trump asked, the Washington Post reported, citing "several people briefed on the meeting."
Trump didn't address the reported expletive in his denial.
Durbin went on the record Friday saying he heard Trump "repeatedly" make “hate-filled, vile and racist” comments to lawmakers during the meeting, the Huffington Post reported.
“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 added to the Huffington Post. “You’ve seen the comments in the press. I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate.”
Trump also reportedly noted that immigrants from Haiti must be left out of any deal: “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out,” the president said, the Washington Post reported, citing "people familiar with the meeting."
But Trump on Friday morning specifically denied disparaging Haitians and denied saying "take them out."
"Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country," Trump tweeted. "Never said 'take them out.' Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!"
According to the Washington Post, Trump also remarked that the U.S. should bring in people from countries like Norway. Trump also said he's open to more immigrants from Asian nations due to his belief that they could help bolster the U.S. economy, the paper added, citing a White House official.
The White House declined to comment on the Washington Post story but released a statement from principal deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah.
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” the statement read.
“The president will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration — two programs that hurt our economy and allow terrorists into our country,” the statement continued. “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.”
“He will always reject temporary, weak, and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway,” the statement concluded.
Trump posted related tweets Friday morning:
The Trump administration announced Monday that approximately 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants have until Sept. 9, 2019, to leave the country, find a legal way to remain in the U.S. or face deportation.