Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue, who’ve been close allies to the President on the issue of immigration, were in a White House meeting with him Thursday when Trump, according to sources, expressed frustration with people coming to the US from “shithole countries.”
“We do not recall the President saying these comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest,” they said in a statement.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” Trump said. “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republcain, was also part of the Oval Office sitdown. He suggested in a statement Friday that the President had said something questionable, but Graham did not directly say Trump had used the term “shithole” to describe African countries.
“Following comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday,” said Graham, who was part of a bipartisan proposal on immigration that Trump rejected at the meeting. “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.”
“If that comment is accurate, the comment is incredibly disappointing,” Scott told the newspaper.
Sen. Dick Durbin, the lone Democrat in the meeting, confirmed the comments Friday morning, calling the words “hate filled, vile and racist.”
“The words used by the President, as related to me directly following the meeting by those in attendance, were not ‘tough,’ ” he said, taking issue with the President’s tweet. “They were abhorrent and repulsive.”
CNN’s Steve Brusk and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.