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You’ve seen the comments in the press. I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate . . . [President Trump] said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly. — Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, who was at the meeting Following comments by the president, I said my piece directly to him yesterday [Thursday]. The president and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel. — GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
President Trump’s “s--thole” remarks turned into a full-blown s--tstorm Friday, with a flurry of confusing denials, global outrage — and an awkward White House event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Trump reportedly used the word to slur some African nations, El Salvador and Haiti during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration Thursday.
A day later, the commander in chief signed a proclamation celebrating the great civil-rights leader and was barraged with questions from reporters like “Are you a racist?” as he stood with King Jr.’s nephew.
Trump didn’t answer, turned his back and left the room.
The moment was a low point in a day that began with the president denying on Twitter that he had made the vile remarks.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made — a big setback for DACA!” the president tweeted early Friday.
A second tweet read: “Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings — unfortunately, no trust!”
But Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois — the only Democrat at the meeting — later confirmed that not only did Trump say “these hate-filled things,” he said them more than once.
“You’ve seen the comments in the press. I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate. 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,” Durbin told CNN.
Durbin said GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham “spoke up and made a direct comment on what the president said” at the time. Graham, who was at the meeting to present an immigration plan with Durbin, acknowledged only vaguely that the president made “comments.”
“Following comments by the president, I said my piece directly to him yesterday. The president and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel,” Graham said.
Other Republicans present included Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas — who issued a joint statement claiming they “do not recall” the comment “specifically.” Reps. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.) and Robert W. Goodlatte (Va.) all refused to confirm or deny the reports.
Meanwhile, scorn poured in from world leaders, diplomats and immigrants born in the besmirched nations.
Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, said he was “shocked,” adding, “Africa and the black race merit the respect and consideration of all.”
The UN’s human-rights office said Trump’s words “go against the universal values the world has been striving so hard to establish since World War II and the Holocaust.”
“This isn’t just a story about vulgar language. It’s about opening the door to humanity’s worst side,” said UN spokesman Rupert Colville.
Even King Jr.’s nephew — who stood awkwardly by the president during the proclamation-signing ceremony — was forced to weigh in, later saying Trump is “racially ignorant” but not “a racist.”
“I think President Trump is racially ignorant and racially uniformed. But I don’t think he is a racist in the traditional sense,” Isaac Newton Farris Jr. told CNN.
And in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn — known as New York’s “Little Haiti” — locals said the president’s remarks stung.
“No Haitian likes the way the president is taking about Haitian people,” said Serge C., 59, who arrived in the US in 1984.
Seven days from his inaugural anniversary, and Trump was under fire for calling Haiti and Africa “s#!tholes” and paying off alleged mistress Stormy Daniels. MLK Jr.’s nephew Isaac Newton Farris called the president “racially ignorant.”
AWKWARD! Amid the furor over his Thursday comments about Haiti, El Salvador and African nations — comments blasted by critics as racist — President Trump presides over a ceremony Friday in DC with the kin of Martin Luther King Jr.