Trump repeatedly used 's---hole' to describe African countries, Sen. Dick Durbin says

  • Sen. Dick Durbin says President Donald Trump asked why the U.S. needed more Haitian immigrants and called African nations "s---hole" countries.
  • The senator says Trump "repeatedly" said "hate-filled things" at the Thursday meeting on immigration, which he attended.
  • Meeting attendees Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue say they "do not recall" Trump making those comments "specifically."

President Donald Trump "repeatedly" described African nations as "s---hole" countries during a meeting on immigration on Thursday, said Sen. Dick Durbin, who attended the White House event.

On Friday, the Illinois Democrat told reporters that Trump's tweeted denial of using the term "is not true." The senator said the president said "hate-filled things" and "he said them repeatedly."

But meeting attendees Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., said in a joint statement Friday that they "do not recall" Trump "saying these comments specifically." He did "call out ... the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest," they said.

During the talks on a possible bipartisan bill to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants and boost border security, Trump questioned whether the U.S. needed more Haitian immigrants, Durbin said. The senator added that Trump also made "vile and vulgar comments" about African countries.

Donald Trump
Evan Vucci | AP
Donald Trump

Both Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Durbin spoke up in response to the president's remarks, Durbin said.

Graham weighed in Friday afternoon, and he didn't deny that the president said the expletives.

"Following comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday," Graham wrote in a statement. "I appreciate Senator Durbin's statements and have enjoyed working with him and many others on this important issue."

Here is Durbin's account of what Trump said:

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. When the question was raised about Haitians, for example, we have a group that have temporary protected status in the United States because they were the victims of crises and disasters and political upheaval. The largest group's El Salvadoran, the second is Honduran, the third is Haitian. And when I mentioned that fact to him, he said 'Haitians, do we need more Haitians?' And then he went on when we started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. That's when he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from 'shitholes.' The exact word used by the president, not just once, but repeatedly.

In his tweet Friday morning, Trump said he used "tough" language at the meeting.

"But this was not the language I used," he added, apparently referencing the report of him saying "s---hole."

Trump also denied saying "anything derogatory" about Haitians.