Durbin fires back at Trump denial: ‘He said those hateful things, and he said them repeatedly’
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) fired back at President Trump for denying that he called Haiti, El Salvador and African countries “shithole countries,” saying Trump’s denials are “not true.”
“In the course of his comments, [Trump] said things that were hate-filled, vile and racist,” Durbin told reporters on Friday. “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 was one of several lawmakers in the meeting, during which Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries,” according to The Washington Post.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump reportedly said.
Trump then suggested the U.S. should bring in more immigrants from countries like Norway.
Durbin told reporters that Trump’s comments as reported by the Post were accurate.
“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.”
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) were also present in the meeting and were surprised by Trump’s remarks, the Post reported.
Durbin told reporters that Graham “spoke up” when Trump made the remark. He praised Graham for his “political courage.”
“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.”
In a statement Thursday, the White House did not explicitly deny Trump’s “shithole” comments.
But Friday morning, Trump denied saying “anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country” and said that while he used “tough” language in the meeting with lawmakers, “this was not the language used.”
Trump’s comments drew backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, media figures and foreign governments, many of whom accused Trump of racist behavior.
Updated at 10:02 a.m.
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