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Trump unconvincingly denies “shithole countries” remarks

The president also tweeted that he “never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country.”

President Trump Meets With Bipartisan Group Of Senators On Immigration Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Jen Kirby is a senior foreign and national security reporter at Vox, where she covers global instability.

President Donald Trump in a Friday morning tweet denied that he used the language “shithole countries” to describe immigrants from Haiti and some African countries:

The rebuttal came after the Washington Post reported that the president of the United States asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” during a meeting with lawmakers over a potential immigration deal, referring to people from Haiti and countries in Africa. He complained that the US, instead, should accept people from places such as Norway. (CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that sources said Trump only used “shithole countries” to refer to African nations, and separately discussed Haiti.)

The Washington Post reported, in an update later Thursday evening, that Trump did disparage Haitians directly, when asking why they were included in the potential bipartisan immigration deal, which would allocate the 50,000 slots from the diversity visa lottery to those immigrants already in the US who are now losing their temporary protected status — including Haitians, Salvadorans, and some people from African countries:

“‘Why do we need more Haitians?’ Trump said, according to people familiar with the meeting. ‘Take them out.’”

Trump later also denied this portion of the report, claiming he did not say anything “derogatory” about Haitians in another tweet that, incidentally, included a derogatory remark about the country:

The White House did not actually deny the “shithole” remarks outright after the Post and other outlets reported on the meeting Thursday, instead spinning it as Trump’s characteristic toughness on immigration. “Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” a White House spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Jim’s Sciutto. The White House went on to say Trump wants immigrants who can “contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.”

The firestorm over Trump’s comments hasn’t abated -- he’s received worldwide condemnation, and members of both parties have rebuked his remarks. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who was present at the meeting, also verified Trump’s remarks. “You have seen the comments in the press,” Durbin said. “I have not read one of them that is inaccurate.”

Staffers inside the White House are reportedly more sanguine, according to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, who says some see Trump’s comments as a base-pleasing red meat.

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