Durbin says Trump made ‘hateful’ remarks

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinLive coverage: FBI chief, Justice IG testify on critical report Hugh Hewitt to Trump: 'It is 100 percent wrong to separate border-crossing families' Opioid treatment plans must include a trauma-informed approach MORE (D-Ill.) on Friday confirmed media reports that President TrumpDonald John Trump20 weeks out from midterms, Dems and GOP brace for surprises Sessions responds to Nazi comparisons: 'They were keeping the Jews from leaving' Kim Jong Un to visit Beijing this week MORE disparaged several nations as “shithole countries” in a private meeting with lawmakers about immigration reform.

At a press conference, Durbin, who was the only Democrat at a Thursday meeting at the White House, said that Trump used “hate-filled, vile and racist” language to describe immigrants from poor countries.

“I cannot believe in this 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 said.


A second senator, Arizona Republican Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSenate chaplain offers prayer 'as children are being separated from their parents' Romney backs Laura Bush on border: 'We need a more compassionate answer' Mark Sanford’s troubles did not begin with Trump MORE, who has frequently tangled with Trump, tweeted that other senators meeting with Trump had relayed Trump’s remarks to him.

“The words used by the President, as related to me directly following the meeting by those in attendance, were not ‘tough,’ they were abhorrent and repulsive,” Flake tweeted.

None of the other Republican lawmakers who were present in the meeting responded to requests for comment, however, and GOP leadership has so far not weighed in.

Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump digs in amid uproar on zero tolerance policy Senate passes 6B defense bill Justice IG says report doesn’t assess ‘credibility’ of Russian probe MORE (R-S.C.) and Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonHillicon Valley: Supreme Court takes up Apple case | Senate votes to block ZTE deal | Officials testify on Clinton probe report | Russia's threat to undersea cables | Trump tells Pentagon to create 'space force' | FCC begins T-Mobile, Sprint deal review Senate votes to block Trump's ZTE deal On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump nominates budget official Kraninger for consumer chief | Senate votes to block Trump ZTE deal | Stocks fall on trade tensions | House panel moves to markup budget MORE (R-Ark.) and Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteTrump digs in amid uproar on zero tolerance policy Schumer warns 'House moderates' against immigration compromise bill The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Furor grows over child separation policy MORE (R-Va.) were the other lawmakers in the meeting.

Durbin said he personally heard Trump use the disparaging comments and that Graham “spoke up” and rebuked the president at the time.

“My colleague [Graham] spoke up and made a direct comment on what the president said,” Durbin said, according to MSNBC. “For him to confront the president as he did, literally sitting next to him, took extraordinary political courage and I respect him for it."

The White House initially declined to dispute a story, first published in The Washington Post, that Trump had complained about restoring protected status for immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and some in Africa.

Trump also reportedly said that Haitians should be removed from any immigration deal offering protected status to countries that lawmakers have targeted for special treatment.

But after anchors on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” — a show Trump is known to watch early in the morning — said that the president should “clarify” his comments, Trump issued a denial over Twitter.

“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” Trump tweeted, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made — a big setback for DACA!”

“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country,” he added. “Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings — unfortunately, no trust!”

But Durbin directly contradicted Trump.

“You’ve seen the comments in the press,” Durbin said. “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. He said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”

Flake has little to lose by firing on Trump; the Arizona Republican announced he was not running for reelection as Trump signaled support for his possible primary challengers.

The other GOP lawmakers tearing into Trump over his remarks were generally either frequent opponents of Trump who, like Flake, are retiring from office. Others are Republicans running in districts where ties to Trump could be a problem in the 2018 midterm elections.

Reps. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockCook Political Report shifts two House race projections toward Dems RNC mum on whether it will support Trump-backed Corey Stewart The Hill's Morning Report — Ryan dodges disaster on immigration MORE (R-Va.), Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveDems best GOP as Scalise returns for annual charity baseball game Mia Love to join GOP men's congressional baseball team House immigration fight could boost vulnerable Republicans MORE (R-Utah), Carlos Curbello (R-Fla.) and Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenFighting back against the opioid crisis GOP super PAC targets House districts with new M ad buys House immigration fight could boost vulnerable Republicans MORE (R-Minn.) — each a target for Democrats — all denounced the president.

Love’s remarks were particularly stinging, as the Utah Republican’s parents came to the United States from Haiti.

“The President must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned,” Love said.

While GOP leaders have yet to weigh in on the controversy, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump digs in amid uproar on zero tolerance policy Mark Sanford’s troubles did not begin with Trump NY Post blasts Trump, GOP over separating families at border MORE (R-Wis.) is likely to get asked about it at a press conference with a political reporter in Milwaukee scheduled for midday Friday.

The White House did not respond to multiple requests for a comment from The Hill and seemed to be hunkering down in hopes that the controversy blows over.

On Friday, the White House released a statement lauding China for curbing trade with North Korea and officials were preparing to release the president’s decision on whether he would re-certify Iran's compliance with the Obama-era nuclear deal.

Trump appeared at a ceremony just before noon to commemorate Monday’s holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. As Trump exited the ceremony, reporters peppered him with questions, with one member of the press asking twice if he was “a racist.”

Blowback from Democrats over the remarks has been unequivocal, with lawmakers denouncing the president.

“We now know that we have in the White House someone who could lead the Ku Klux Klan in the United States of America,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) said on MSNBC.