WASHINGTON — A Republican senator who attended a Thursday immigration meeting at the White Property forcefully denied on Sunday that President Trump had used the phrase “shithole countries” in describing Haiti and African nations, saying a Democratic senator’s account of the session was “a gross misrepresentation.”
Senator David Perdue, Republican of Georgia, said on ABC’s “This Week” that Mr. Trump “did not use that word,” and accused Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, of distorting what the president had stated at the meeting, which included far more than a half-dozen lawmakers.
Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, joined Mr. Perdue later in the morning in questioning Mr. Durbin.
“I didn’t hear that word either,” he mentioned on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And I was sitting no further away from Donald Trump than Dick Durbin was.”
Mr. Cotton mentioned Mr. Durbin “has a history of misrepresenting what takes place in White Residence meetings,” a comment that Mr. Perdue echoed in his interview Sunday morning.
Ben Marter, a spokesman for Mr. Durbin, quickly attacked their assertions.
“Credibility is one thing that’s built by becoming consistently honest more than time,” Mr. Marter wrote on Twitter. “Senator Durbin has it. Senator Perdue does not. Ask anyone who’s dealt with each.”
The remarks by Mr. Perdue and Mr. Cotton were an escalation from a statement they released on Friday, when they mentioned they did “not recall the president saying these comments especially.”
They also appear to conflict with the account of Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who was at the Thursday meeting. Mr. Graham told a fellow South Carolina Republican, Senator Tim Scott, that reports in the news media of Mr. Trump’s language had been “basically accurate.” The other lawmakers at the meeting, all Republicans, have either not discussed it publicly or made only vague comments.
The Homeland Safety secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, who also attended the meeting, said on “Fox News Sunday” that she could not recall the president “saying that exact phrase.”
Mr. Durbin had told reporters on Friday that Mr. Trump had utilized the word “shithole” a number of occasions in front of the group during a discussion of a proposed bipartisan deal on immigration, and had mentioned “things which have been hate-filled, vile and racist.”
“I can’t believe that, in the history of the White House in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday,” Mr. Durbin mentioned.
Mr. Graham had reportedly admonished the president in the course of the meeting by telling him that “America is an notion, not a race.” And a quantity of leading Senate Republicans joined Mr. Graham on Friday in pushing back against Mr. Trump’s comments.
On Sunday morning, Mr. Durbin returned to the situation when he responded to a tweet Mr. Trump had posted accusing Democrats of wanting only “to speak and take desperately necessary cash away from our Military” in their discussions on immigration policy.
Mr. Durbin wrote, “Republicans and Democrats negotiated in good faith to reach a deal that provides you what you asked for in front of the country on Tuesday. It is time to lead and assistance the bipartisan deal.”
Published at Sun, 14 Jan 2018 22:57:08 +0000