Two Republican senators who hastily joined an immigration meeting at the White House this week said Friday they do not recall President Trump using vulgar language to describe countries in Africa and elsewhere.
The White House has not disputed reports that Trump complained about immigrants from “shithole” countries during the meeting.
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 .
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.”
From the moment he launched his candidacy by attacking Mexican immigrants as criminals, President Trump has returned time and again to language that is racially charged and, to many, insensitive and highly offensive.
Whether it is a calculated strategy to appeal to less tolerant and broadminded supporters or simply a filter-free chief executive saying what’s on his mind, the cycle is by now familiar: The president speaks, critics respond with outrage, and Trump’s defenders accuse his critics of hysterically overreacting.
The latest instance came Thursday, during a White House meeting with congressional lawmakers on immigration. Trump asked why the United States would accept immigrants from “shithole countries” in Africa and the Caribbean rather than people from places such as Norway, according to two people briefed on the meeting.
President Trump conceded early Friday that he used “tough” language during a closed-door immigration meeting the day before, but implied that reports he complained about the U.S. accepting migrants from “shithole countries” were wrong.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” Trump tweeted. “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made — a big setback for DACA!”
In other tweets posted Friday morning, Trump complained about a bipartisan immigration deal that senators outlined to him at the White House meeting. He said it would force the U.S. "to take large numbers of people from high crime … countries which are doing badly." The tweets backed up the notion that Trump views immigration policy in terms of favorable and unfavorable countries, not on the individual merit of would-be immigrants, as he says.
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!
Mnuchin on Trump going to Davos: “I can assure you that the members of his Cabinet have no interest in going over there and rubbing elbows with anybody. This is about meeting business leaders” https://t.co/LeghPbhRPp
President Trump, who campaigned as a champion of “the forgotten” men and women and against global elites, raised eyebrows this week when the White House announced he would attend the elites’ annual get-together: the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Now comes word he’ll hardly be going alone to the Alpine resort.
The White House on Thursday announced an unusually large presidential delegation for the trip this month, including seven Cabinet secretaries and several high-ranking West Wing officials, among them Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Also going are the head of the Food and Drug Administration and unnamed guests.
With his wounds still fresh after a vicious falling-out with President Trump, former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon is expected to testify behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, according to a source with knowledge of the schedule.
The House committee is one of at least three congressional panels investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Bannon has not previously testified before any of them, or, as far as is known, before special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is conducting a separate criminal investigation.
Bannon’s testimony before the House panel has been expected since last month, when his name was added to a roster of upcoming interviews. But his appearance comes at a dramatic moment.
Rep. Adam Schiff, whose frustration with his Republican colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee has been building for months, said Thursday that members of President Trump’s party were trying to stymie the congressional investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 campaign.
“That’s a head-in-the-sand approach, which is deeply at odds with the commitment we’ve made to the public,” Schiff said in a meeting with reporters.
The Burbank Democrat said Republicans had refused to invite dozens of witnesses to testify before the committee. Schiff also said they haven’t issued subpoenas for Twitter communications involving Wikileaks, which released emails that were hacked from Democratic officials during the campaign, or Deutsche Bank records involving the president’s finances.
The Kremlin dismissed a U.S. congressional report on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections as “unfounded” and blamed Washington’s "paranoid concerns" about Russia as harmful to bilateral relations.
"We can only voice regret over the continuing campaign [against Russia] and once again recall that so far, all these concerns, all the accusations against our country of meddling have had no grounds and are absolutely unfounded," Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, told reporters on a daily press call Thursday.
Peskov was referring to staff report released Wednesday by Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that detailed alleged attempts by the Kremlin to undermine the U.S. elections process in 2016.
The Kremlin has continually denied accusations that it tried to interfere in America’s presidential election and blamed “Russophobia” growing in Washington as a major constraint in attempts to rebuild relations between the two countries.
A federal judge’s decision to stop President Trump from ending protections for so-called Dreamers offered the young immigrants a temporary reprieve but may have stalled the urgency in Congress toward a more lasting legislative solution.
The president on Wednesday denounced the federal courts as “broken and unfair” after a district judge in San Francisco issued a temporary ruling keeping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in place, despite Trump’s decision to end it this year. The administration vowed to request a stay and appeal.
But the nationwide preliminary injunction produced cross-currents in Congress, where lawmakers have been meeting frantically in bipartisan groups to come up with deportation protections for some 700,000 immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and have been working, attending school or serving in the military.