A war of the words continues over President Donald Trump's alleged comments on immigration during a Thursday meeting on the heated topic.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) claims Trump described Haiti and certain African nations as "s***hole countries." Reports of the exchange sparked outrage and accusations of racism across the nation and in areas around the globe. Trump denies making the statement.
So what is the truth about what Trump said? At his point, it appears to depend on which politician you choose to believe.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) explained his take on comments Durbin and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made after the immigration meeting. Cotton made the comments Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation."
“What Senator Durbin and Senator Graham proposed is to expand our country of origin and quota-based system,” Cotton told host John Dickerson. “The president reacted strongly against that — as he should — and I do, as well, because we want to get away from a country of origin system that treats people as Nigerians, or Norwegians and treats them as individuals – doctors, scientists and computer programmers, and so forth.
He reiterated that we need to move to "a skills-based system.”
Dickerson pressed Cotton to confirm that the general sentiment of what Trump was saying did not lump people together.
“I did not hear derogatory comments about individuals or about persons, no,” Cotton said.
When asked if the racist sentiment attributed to Trump is phony, Cotton replied, “Yes.”
Cotton also explained during the program what is the nation’s current immigration policy:
Country or origin quotas are arbitrary, and they treat people based on where they’re from, not who they are.
Today, for instance, over 300,000 Indians are waiting to immigrate to this country and they can’t do so, because we have arbitrary caps on the countries from which people come. If you change our immigration system to a skills-based system, that respects and treats people for who they are, as individuals, as opposed to residents of a certain country or relatives of certain people in the United States. It is a system that is more in keeping with American values.”
During the program, Dickerson played comments from Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), who has denied the president made the reported comments. Perdue says lawmakers have made “gross misrepresentations” of what Trump said.
Perdue released a joint statement with Cotton that said they do not recall Trump making the expletive comment.
“John, I didn’t hear that word either,” Cotton told Dickerson. “I certainly didn’t hear what Senator Durbin has said repeatedly.”