President Donald Trump on Sunday pushed back against claims he’s a racist after news broke he allegedly called Haiti and African nations “sh*thole countries,” according to multiple lawmakers in the room.
According to a White House pool report, the president told reporters, “No. I’m not a racist. I’m the least racist person you will ever interview,” as he was entering Trump International Golf Course.
The president offered a qualifying denial of his alleged remarks Friday, tweeting:
The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
And while multiple lawmakers claim the president made these incendiary comments during a bipartisan meeting on immigration — including Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who said Trump “said these hate-filled things” — other congressmen argue they didn’t hear Trump’s remarks in the same way.
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) on Sunday said the president didn’t use “sh*thole” to describe Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations: “I’m telling you he did not use that word, George,” he said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos. “And I’m telling you it’s a gross misrepresentation. How many times do you want me to say that?”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) also backed up the president’s denial Sunday while also blasting his colleague, Sen. Durbin, in the process: “I certainly didn’t hear what Sen. Durbin has said repeatedly. Sen. Durbin has a history of misrepresenting what happens in White House meetings.”
“Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments? They were not made,” Trump said Sunday night in Florida.
The controversy surrounding the president’s alleged comments seem to have complicated an already complex effort by those in Congress taxed with securing a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which expires in early March, leaving thousands at risk of deportation.
“Honestly, I don’t think the Democrats want to make a deal. They talk about DACA, but they don’t want to help..We are ready, willing and able to make a deal but they don’t want to,” Trump tweeted Monday, releasing a statement he made to the press the night before.
“My standard is very simple, AMERICA FIRST & MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” he added.
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