Trump; I am not a racist

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By DAR­LENE SUPERVILLE

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is de­fend­ing him­self anew against ac­cu­sa­tions that he is racist, this time af­ter re­cent dis­parag­ing com­ments about Haiti and African na­tions.

“No, No. I'm not a racist,” Trump said Sun­day, af­ter re­porters asked him to re­spond to those who think he is. “I am the least racist per­son you have ever in­ter­viewed. That I can tell you.”

Trump also de­nied mak­ing the state­ments at­trib­uted to him, but avoided the de­tails of what he did or did not say.

“Did you see what var­i­ous sen­a­tors in the room said about my com­ments?” he asked, re­fer­ring to law­mak­ers who were meet­ing with him in the Oval Of­fice on Thurs­day when Trump is said to have made the com­ments. “They weren't made.”

Trump stands ac­cused of us­ing “shit­hole” to de­scribe African coun­tries dur­ing an im­mi­gra­tion meet­ing with a bi­par­ti­san group of six sen­a­tors. The pres­i­dent, in the meet­ing, also ques­tioned the need to ad­mit more Haitians to the U.S., ac­cord­ing to peo­ple who were briefed on the con­ver­sa­tion but were not au­tho­rized to de­scribe the meet­ing pub­licly.

Trump said in the meet­ing that he would pre­fer im­mi­grants from coun­tries like Nor­way in­stead.

The White House has not de­nied that Trump said”`shit­hole” though Trump has al­ready pushed back on some de­pic­tions of the meet­ing.

A con­fi­dant of Trump's told The As­so­ci­ated Press that the pres­i­dent spent Thurs­day evening call­ing friends and out­side ad­vis­ers to judge their re­ac­tion to his re­marks. Trump wasn't apolo­getic and de­nied he was racist, in­stead blam­ing the me­dia for dis­tort­ing his mean­ing, said the con­fi­dant, who wasn't au­tho­rized to dis­close a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illi­nois, the only Demo­crat at Thurs­day's meet­ing, said Trump had in­deed said what he was re­ported to have said. Durbin said the re­marks were “vile, hate-filled and clearly racial in their con­tent.” He said Trump used the most vul­gar term “more than once.”

Trump com­mented as Durbin was pre­sent­ing de­tails of a com­pro­mise im­mi­gra­tion plan that in­cluded pro­vid­ing $1.6 bil­lion for a first in­stall­ment of the pres­i­dent's long-sought bor­der wall.

Trump took par­tic­u­lar is­sue with the idea that peo­ple who'd fled to the U.S. af­ter dis­as­ters hit their homes in places such as El Sal­vador, Gu­atemala and Haiti would be al­lowed to stay as part of the deal, ac­cord­ing to the peo­ple, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they weren't au­tho­rized to pub­licly de­scribe the dis­cus­sion.

When it came to talk of ex­tend­ing pro­tec­tions for Haitians, Durbin said Trump replied, ``We don't need more Haitians.'''

“He said, `Put me down for want­ing more Euro­peans to come to this coun­try. Why don't we get more peo­ple from Nor­way?’” Durbin said.

Repub­li­can Sens. David Per­due of Ge­or­gia and Tom Cot­ton of Arkansas, who also at­tended the meet­ing, ini­tially said in a state­ment Fri­day that they “do not re­call the pres­i­dent say­ing these com­ments specif­i­cally.” On Sun­day, they back­tracked and chal­lenged other sen­a­tors' de­scrip­tions of the re­marks.

Per­due de­scribed as a “gross mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion” re­ports that Trump used the vul­gar­ity. He said Durbin and Repub­li­can Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina were mis­taken in in­di­cat­ing that was the case. Gra­ham also at­tended the meet­ing. “I am telling you that he did not use that word. And I'm telling you it's a gross mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” Per­due said on ABC's “This Week.”

Cot­ton told CBS' “Face the Na­tion” that he “didn't hear” the word used - “and I was sit­ting no fur­ther away from Don­ald Trump than Dick Durbin was.”

Trump in­sisted in a tweet on Fri­day that he “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.” Trump wrote, “I have a won­der­ful re­la­tion­ship with Haitians. Prob­a­bly should record fu­ture meet­ings - un­for­tu­nately, no trust!''

Trump has de­fended him­self against ac­cu­sa­tions of be­ing a racist on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, in­clud­ing dur­ing his in­sis­tence that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama was not Amer­i­can-born and af­ter he opened his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 2015 by de­scrib­ing Mex­i­cans as rapists and drug ped­dlers.

Word of Trump's com­ments threat­ened to up­end del­i­cate ne­go­ti­a­tions over re­solv­ing the sta­tus of hun­dreds of thou­sands of im­mi­grants who were brought to the coun­try il­le­gally as chil­dren. Trump an­nounced last year that he will end the Obama-era De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram, or DACA, un­less law­mak­ers come up with a so­lu­tion by March. The pro­gram shielded these im­mi­grants, of­ten re­ferred to as ``Dream­ers,'' from de­por­ta­tion and granted them per­mits to work.

Trump tweeted ear­lier Sun­day that the pro­gram is “prob­a­bly dead” and blamed Democrats. He elab­o­rated on the way to din­ner Sun­day night with House Ma­jor­ity Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., say­ing Democrats “don't want to help the DACA peo­ple.”

Some Democrats have threat­ened to vote against leg­is­la­tion to ex­tend govern­ment fund­ing, which ex­pires on Fri­day, un­less pro­tec­tions for the Dream­ers are in­cluded.

“Hon­estly I don't think the Democrats want to make a deal,” Trump said. “I think they talk about DACA, but they don't want to help the DACA peo­ple.”

Trump said Democrats aren't for se­cur­ing the bor­der or stop­ping the flow of drugs, but are for tak­ing money away from the mil­i­tary.

“We have a lot of stick­ing points but they're all Demo­crat stick­ing points,” he said. “We are ready, will­ing and able to make a deal, but they don't want to.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF WHITE­HOUSE.GOV

LEAST RACIST: Pres­i­dent Trump de­nied re­fer­ring to African na­tions with dis­parag­ing state­ments.

PHOTO COURTESY OF STARSDIARY.COM

PRES­I­DEN­TIAL: Former and cur­rent pres­i­dents, Barack Obama and Don­ald Trump share a word at Trump's in­au­gu­ra­tion.

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