Graham: I said my piece to Trump directly
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week Press: Judge Kavanaugh must withdraw Kavanaugh: 'I will not be intimidated into withdrawing' MORE (R-S.C.) said Friday that he said his piece directly to President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE at a White House meeting on immigration reform the previous day where Trump reportedly disparaged several nations as "shithole countries."

Graham was present at the bipartisan meeting in the Oval Office where Trump reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador and several African nations as "shithole countries" after lawmakers suggested that immigrants from the countries be provided protections.

"Following comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday. The President and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel. I've always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals," Graham said in a statement on Friday.

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Graham neither confirmed nor denied the controversial remarks attributed to Trump, but the GOP senator said he appreciated statements from Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinAmnesty International calls to halt Kavanaugh nomination Fox's Chris Wallace: All 10 Democratic Senate Judiciary members again declined interview invitations Durbin: ‘No reason’ for people to remember Kavanaugh at party accuser describes MORE (D-Ill.).

Durbin, the only Democrat at the meeting Thursday, said he heard Trump make the crude remarks and praised Graham for speaking up and rebuking the president at the time. 

“My colleague [Graham] spoke up and made a direct comment on what the president said,” Durbin said Friday, 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 on Thursday did not deny that Trump made the remarks, but the president took to Twitter on Friday morning, writing, "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used."

"I appreciate Senator Durbin's statements and have enjoyed working with him and many others on this important issue," Graham said in his statement.

"Diversity has always been our strength, not our weakness. In reforming immigration we cannot lose these American ideals."

Graham, who has taken a more moderate stance on immigration than Trump, previously called another bipartisan immigration meeting this week with Trump the "most fascinating meeting" of his political career.

Two of Graham's Republican colleagues, Sens. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP senator accuses Dems of ‘character assassination’ on Kavanaugh Sprint/T-Mobile deal must not allow China to threaten US security GOP senators condemn 'vulgar' messages directed at Collins over Kavanaugh MORE (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.), issued a statement Friday saying they did not recall Trump explicitly making the "shithole" comments as reported.