Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows Trump offers sympathy for those charged with Jan. 6 offenses Lindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees MORE (R-S.C.) said Friday that he said his piece directly to President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal 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.
Graham neither confirmed nor denied the controversial remarks attributed to Trump, but the GOP senator said he appreciated statements from Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinManchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema US gymnasts offer scathing assessment of FBI MORE (D-Ill.).
“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 CottonTom Bryant CottonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal MORE (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.), issued a statement Friday saying they did not recall Trump explicitly making the "shithole" comments as reported.