Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, said President Trump “said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist” during a meeting on Thursday with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, refuting Trump’s denials that he slurred immigrants from what Trump called “shithole” countries.
“I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday,” Durbin told reporters on Friday, after Trump tweeted a denial of sorts.
“I’ve seen the comments in the press,” Durbin continued, referring to reports about the White House meeting that he attended. “I have not read one of them that’s inaccurate.”
Early reports of the meeting, in which Trump rejected a bipartisan immigration agreement, cited unnamed sources on his immigration remarks. Durbin is the first participant to recount it on the record, beyond Trump in his tweet.
The White House did not initially deny reports about Trump’s derogatory comments about Africa, Central America and the Caribbean in its statement late Thursday, including an anecdote that Trump demanded an end to protection for some Haitian immigration, saying “take them out” of any bipartisan legislative deal.
In Friday’s tweets, Trump said he “never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country.”
“Never said ‘take them out,’” Trump continued. “Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”