Speaker Ryan: Trump's 'S**thole' Comments Were 'Very Unfortunate, Unhelpful'

| JAN 12, 2018 | 7:48 PM

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) lamented President Donald Trump's reported comments on immigration, recalling how it reminded him of his Irish ancestors who faced discrimination when they came to the United States.

“You know what I thought of right away? I thought about my own family,” Ryan said. Ryan portrayed a “beautiful story of America” in his family's journey, and he suggested Americans should celebrate the diversity that came with immigration.

“That is the story we have today and that is the story we had yesterday and that is what makes this is country so exceptional and unique in the first place,” he said after describing how his great grandfather started a business now run by his cousins.

“I see this as a thing to celebrate,” Ryan added, apparently referring to immigration in general. “I think it’s a big part of our strength, whether you are coming from Haiti — we've got great friends from Africa in Janesville who are doctors who are just incredible citizens. And I just think it’s important that we celebrate that.”

Trump's comments, Ryan said, were “very unfortunate” and “unhelpful.”

Ryan was responding to a question about Trump allegedly calling Haiti, as well as African nations, “s**thole countries.” The Washington Post reported Thursday that during a meeting about immigration reform, Trump made those comments and suggested he wanted to remove Haitian immigrants from the U.S.

“Why do we need more Haitians?” he asked, according to the Post. But on Friday, Trump denied a quote calling for Haitian immigrants' ouster and cast doubt on the Post's accuracy in reporting quotes attributed to him:

But Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who attended the Thursday meeting, claimed those quotes were accurate.

“You've seen the comments in the press. I’ve not seen one of them that’s inaccurate. To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words. It is not true,” Durbin said.

Watch Ryan's answer below, via CNN.