CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta on Thursday said a report that President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee 'will not be harmed by delay' Two House Democrats announce they won't seek reelection DiCaprio on climate change: 'Vote for people that are sane' MORE questioned why the U.S. accepts residents from “shithole countries" reflects a pattern that Trump harbors “racist feelings.”
“The president of the United States just seems to have a problem here, Wolf, in this area. And we can tiptoe around it and dance around it and not put our finger on it, but the president seems to harbor racist feelings about people of color from other parts of the world,” Acosta told CNN host Wolf Blitzer.
“And it’s just a terrible thing to have come out of your mouth as a White House correspondent or a journalist, but if these comments are accurate, Wolf, I think it’s just going to cause more damage, more grave damage to this presidency because it cuts to the very core of who he is,” Acosta continued.
The Washington Post reported that Trump made the remark during a meeting with other lawmakers to discuss protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) were reportedly present at the meeting and were surprised by the comments, according to the Post.
The White House defended Trump’s remarks in a statement and did not deny them.
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” White House spokesperson Raj Shah said in a statement.
Acosta cited Trump's previous comments in which he faulted "both sides" for violence at a white supremacist rally in Virginia in August, as well as Trump's comments at his campaign launch in 2015, in which he called Mexican immigrants "rapists" and "criminals."
Trump also reportedly said last year that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and that Nigerian immigrants would never “go back to their huts” if granted entrance to the U.S.
The White House denied Trump made those remarks.
Trump has frequently lashed out at CNN, labeling it "fake news."