Global out­rage over Trump com­ments per­sists

PRES­I­DENT AP­PEARS TO DENY VUL­GAR­ITY Sen. Durbin con­tra­dicts him, calls re­marks ‘vile’


Pres­i­dent Trump’s com­ments about African coun­tries and Haiti drew con­dem­na­tion from around the world Fri­day, putting the White House and Repub­li­cans on the de­fen­sive while cast­ing doubt on hopes of re­solv­ing dis­putes in the com­ing weeks over im­mi­gra­tion leg­is­la­tion.

In a tweet Fri­day, Trump seemed to deny us­ing the term “shit­hole” to re­fer to some coun­tries dur­ing a pri­vate White House meet­ing Thurs­day but ac­knowl­edged he used “tough” lan­guage dur­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions. Among Repub­li­cans, there were dif­fer­ing re­sponses to the com­ments, but few of them out­right con­demned his re­marks.

The lone Demo­crat present for the Oval Of­fice en­counter said that Trump’s de­nial was false and that the pres­i­dent “said things that were hate-filled, vile and racist.”

“I can­not 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,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) told re­porters.

In a sign that the out­cry over Trump’s re­marks is un­likely to abate quickly, se­nior House Democrats said they planned next week to in­tro­duce a res­o­lu­tion cen­sur­ing the pres­i­dent for his com­ments.

A day af­ter the White House did not deny that Trump used the vul­gar­ity, first re­ported by The Wash­ing­ton Post, Trump dove into the con­tro­versy and blasted out his own ver­sion of the meet­ing early Fri­day on Twit­ter.

“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!” Trump wrote, re­fer­ring to ne­go­ti­a­tions over the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram that al­lowed

chil­dren brought to the coun­try il­le­gally, known as “dream­ers,” to avoid de­por­ta­tion.

But Trump’s at­tempt at a de­nial did lit­tle to quell the in­ter­na­tional out­rage at his re­ported com­ments that the United States should seek im­mi­grants from coun­tries such as Nor­way in­stead of from African and Latin Amer­i­can na­tions.

“There is no other word one can use but ‘racist,’ ” United Na­tions hu­man rights spokesman Ru­pert Colville said at a brief­ing in Geneva. “You can­not dis­miss en­tire coun­tries and con­ti­nents as ‘shit­holes,’ whose en­tire pop­u­la­tions, who are not white, are there­fore not wel­come.”

Ebba Kalondo, spokes­woman for the African Union, said the com­ments were alarm­ing.

“Con­sid­er­ing the his­tor­i­cal re­al­ity of how many Africans ar­rived in the U.S. dur­ing the At­lantic slave trade, this flies in the face of all ac­cepted be­hav­ior and prac­tice,” she said.

The con­tro­versy be­gan Thurs­day, when the pres­i­dent grew frus­trated with law­mak­ers dur­ing an Oval Of­fice meet­ing as they dis­cussed pro­tect­ing im­mi­grants from Haiti, El Sal­vador and African coun­tries as part of a bi­par­ti­san deal over the dream­ers, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral peo­ple briefed on the meet­ing.

“Why are we hav­ing all th­ese peo­ple from shit­hole coun­tries come here?” Trump said, ac­cord­ing to th­ese peo­ple, re­fer­ring to coun­tries men­tioned by the law­mak­ers.

Trump then sug­gested that the United States should in­stead bring more peo­ple from coun­tries such as Nor­way, whose prime min­is­ter he met with Wed­nes­day.

A White House of­fi­cial said Trump also sug­gested that he would be open to more im­mi­grants from Asian coun­tries be­cause he felt that they help the United States eco­nom­i­cally.

In ad­di­tion, the pres­i­dent sin­gled out Haiti, telling law­mak­ers that im­mi­grants from that coun­try must be left out of any deal, th­ese peo­ple said.

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

In Novem­ber, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re­scinded de­por­ta­tion pro­tec­tion granted to nearly 60,000 Haitians af­ter the 2010 earth­quake and told them to re­turn home by July 2019. This week, the ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced that sim­i­lar pro­tec­tions for roughly 200,000 Sal­vado­rans will end in Septem­ber 2019 — un­less Congress en­acts leg­is­la­tion pro­vid­ing them per­ma­nent le­gal sta­tus.

In an­other tweet Fri­day, Trump fo­cused on re­marks at­trib­uted to him about Haiti, say­ing: “Never said any­thing deroga­tory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obvi- 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!”

Re­ac­tion to Trump’s re­marks across the political spec­trum and around the globe mir­rored what has hap­pened in the past — hastily ar­ranged meet­ings among diplo­mats, out­rage and sharp crit­i­cism from Democrats, and mea­sured com­ments by Repub­li­cans.

At an ap­pear­ance in Mil­wau­kee, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) called Trump’s words “very un­for­tu­nate, un­help­ful,” point­ing to his own Ir­ish an­ces­tors’ mi­gra­tion to Amer­ica.

“It is a beau­ti­ful story of Amer­ica, and that is a great story and that is the story we have to­day and that is a story we had yes­ter­day and that is what makes this coun­try so ex­cep­tional and unique in the first place,” he said. “So I see this as a thing to cel­e­brate, and I think it’s a big part of our strength.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has been ne­go­ti­at­ing the im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy deal with Durbin and Sen. Lind­sey O. Gra­ham (R-S.C.), said in an in­ter­view with The Post that he was not at the meet­ing, but heard about Trump’s com­ments “be­fore it went pub­lic. And what I’ve heard re­ported is con­sis­tent about what I heard about the meet­ing.”

Flake said that Thurs­day’s com­ments re­flect what Trump has re­port­edly said in the past about Haiti and Nige­ria. “I’m not at the sen­ti­ment ex­pressed — it’s con­sis­tent with what he’s said — but that he would do that know­ing the fury it would cause.”

In a state­ment Fri­day af­ter­noon, Gra­ham, who was at the meet­ing, did not specif­i­cally ad­dress what Trump said.

“Fol­low­ing com­ments by the Pres­i­dent, I said my piece di­rectly to him yes­ter­day,” he said. “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.”

On Fri­day, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told a South Carolina news­pa­per that Gra­ham told him that the re­ported com­ments are “ba­si­cally ac­cu­rate.”

“If that com­ment is ac­cu­rate, the com­ment is in­cred­i­bly dis­ap­point­ing,” Scott told the Post & Courier.

In a joint state­ment, Sens. Tom Cot­ton (R-Ark.) and David Per­due (R-Ga.) — two of Trump’s big­gest al­lies on Capi­tol Hill who at­tended Thurs­day’s meet­ing — said, “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.”

Trump, the sen­a­tors said, “brought ev­ery­one to the ta­ble this week and lis­tened to both sides. But re­gret­tably, it seems that not ev­ery­one is com­mit­ted to ne­go­ti­at­ing in good faith.”

Cot­ton and Per­due are coously, spon­sors of leg­is­la­tion that would en­act se­vere re­stric­tions on le­gal im­mi­gra­tion — a bill Trump has said he sup­ports, but that se­nior GOP lead­ers have said could not pass Congress.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (RFla.), who also at­tended the meet­ing, did not ad­dress the com­ments in a state­ment is­sued by his of­fice Fri­day.

“There are al­most 800,000 young DACA ben­e­fi­cia­ries who are fac­ing im­mi­nent de­por­ta­tion in March if we don’t reach a deal,” he said. “I’m not go­ing to be di­verted from all pos­si­ble ef­forts to con­tinue to ne­go­ti­ate to reach a deal. So state­ments at the 11th hour are not go­ing to dis­tract me.”

An im­mi­gra­tion hard-liner in Congress, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), tweeted sup­port for Trump’s re­marks Fri­day: “If those coun­tries aren’t as you de­scribed, Democrats should be happy to de­port crim­i­nal aliens back to them. &End #An­chorBa­bies, too.”

In the wake of news re­ports about his com­ments, Trump ini­tially was not par­tic­u­larly up­set by the out­cry and spent a por­tion of Thurs­day night call­ing friends and con­fi­dants to as­sess the po­ten­tial fall­out — part of his rou­tine at­tempts to take the tem­per­a­ture of long­time con­tacts, ac­cord­ing to a White House of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity to speak frankly about the pres­i­dent’s re­sponse.

While Trump does not gen­er­ally en­joy wide­spread neg­a­tive me­dia cov­er­age of his more con­tro­sur­prised ver­sial state­ments, the of­fi­cial added he is cog­nizant that the sit­u­a­tion will prob­a­bly be per­ceived dif­fer­ently in Wash­ing­ton and on tele­vi­sion news com­pared with his political base across the coun­try.

Hil­lary Clin­ton, Trump’s 2016 Demo­cratic ri­val, weighed in, tweet­ing that Fri­day’s eighth an­niver­sary of a ma­jor earth­quake in Haiti “is a day to re­mem­ber the tragedy, honor the re­silient peo­ple of Haiti, & af­firm Amer­ica’s com­mit­ment to help­ing our neigh­bors. In­stead, we’re sub­jected to Trump’s ig­no­rant, racist views of any­one who doesn’t look like him.”

Left unan­swered is how much dam­age Trump’s com­ments have done to the abil­ity of Congress to soon reach a deal on DACA.

Durbin said in a writ­ten state­ment Fri­day that he and oth­ers in his bi­par­ti­san group will con­tinue press­ing for an agree­ment. It “con­tin­ues to build sup­port for the only deal in town,” he said.

Gra­ham voiced a sim­i­lar sen­ti­ment in his state­ment.

“I be­lieve it is vi­tally im­por­tant to come to a bi­par­ti­san so­lu­tion to the im­mi­gra­tion and bor­der chal­lenges we face to­day,” he said. “I am com­mit­ted to work­ing with Repub­li­cans and Democrats to find com­mon ground so we can move for­ward.” Ash­ley Parker, Mike DeBo­nis, Erica Werner and Josh Dawsey con­trib­uted to this re­port.


Pres­i­dent Trump ar­rives Fri­day to sign a procla­ma­tion for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) called Trump’s Thurs­day com­ments “hate-filled” and “racist,” and House Democrats said they planned to in­tro­duce a res­o­lu­tion cen­sur­ing the pres­i­dent.


Pres­i­dent Trump gives a pen he used to sign a procla­ma­tion hon­or­ing Martin Luther King Jr. to King’s nephew Isaac New­ton Far­ris Jr.

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