Durbin spokesman: GOP senators have ‘credibility problem’

A spokesman for Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw The Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle MORE (D-Ill.) on Sunday attacked Republican lawmakers for denying they heard President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE call Haiti, El Salvador and African nations “shithole countries” during a White House meeting.

“Yesterday, Senators Cotton and Perdue ‘could not recall’ what the President said. Today they can. That, folks, is a credibility problem,” Ben Marter, Durbin’s director of communications, tweeted.

In a meeting with lawmakers last week, Trump reportedly questioned why the U.S. kept accepting immigrants from "shithole countries" such as Haiti, El Salvador and African nations, instead of accepting more immigrants from places like Norway. 

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Durbin, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally MORE (R-S.C.), Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSenate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Supporting the military means supporting military spouses MORE (R-Ark.) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) were in attendance.

Durbin told reporters Trump made the remark, and stood by his claim even after the president denied it. Graham didn't directly confirm or deny the comment, but reportedly told Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottOn The Money: Trump weighs emergency declaration for Mexico tariffs | GOP senators look to rein in Trump on trade | Powell says Fed may cut rates if trade war hurts economy On The Money: Trump weighs emergency declaration for Mexico tariffs | GOP senators look to rein in Trump on trade | Powell says Fed may cut rates if trade war hurts economy Trump floats new emergency declaration to impose Mexico tariffs MORE (R-S.C.) reports of Trump's remarks were "basically accurate."

Cotton and Perdue initially issued a statement saying they did not recall Trump saying "shithole countries." On Sunday morning talk shows, both senators further clarified their statements.

Perdue outright denied Trump made the vulgar remark, while Cotton said he did not hear the comment, and suggested Durbin has a history of misrepresenting White House meetings.

"I didn't hear it. And I was sitting no farther away from Donald Trump than Dick Durbin was, and I know what Dick Durbin has said about the president's repeated statements is incorrect,” Cotton said on CBS's "Face The Nation."

Marter also took aim at Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Five memorable moments from Sarah Sanders at the White House MORE, who was also at the meeting and said Sunday she didn’t recall him using “that exact phrase.”

“Secretary Nielsen is visibly uncomfortable having to lie — twice — to cover for the President. Pretty early in her tenure to lose her credibility but that’s the deal you make when you sign on to be a face of this Administration,” Marter tweeted.