UPDATE: Trump appears to deny ‘s***hole’ slur, defends ‘tough’ immigration stance
The comments came as senators huddled in the Oval Office with the president to discuss a path forward on an immigration deal.
UPDATE: President Donald Trump on Friday appeared to deny he insulted Haiti and African nations as "s***hole countries” but admitted he used “tough” language during a discussion about an immigration deal with lawmakers.
“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!”
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
Trump didn’t explain which specific comments that had been attributed to him he was denying. On Thursday, Trump used vulgar language during a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators at the White House, a Democratic aide briefed on the meeting told NBC News. When they were talking about Haiti, Trump questioned why Haitians should be given specific consideration, two sources briefed on the conversation said.
Why do we need more Haitians, take them out,” he said, according to sources. Someone else in the room responded: “Because if you do, it will be obvious why.”
The White House issued a statement Thursday that did not deny the remarks.
The comments attributed to him Thursday came as senators huddled in the Oval Office with the president to discuss a path forward on an immigration deal.
On Friday morning, however, Trump ripped those discussions on Twitter.
In a series of posts, Trump also slammed the immigration deal reached by a bipartisan group of senators as a “big step backwards” and reiterated his demands for such a pact.
“The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards. Wall was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime.........countries which are doing badly,” Trump wrote.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
“I want a merit based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level. I want safety and security for our people. I want to stop the massive inflow of drugs. I want to fund our military, not do a Dem defund........Because of the Democrats not being interested in life and safety, DACA has now taken a big step backwards,” he continued.
“The Dems will threaten ‘shutdown,’ but what they are really doing is shutting down our military, at a time we need it most. Get smart, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump posted.
On Thursday, a bipartisan working group of senators announced they had reached an agreement on several immigration issues, including DACA and border security.
The outline, according to multiple Republican and Democratic sources, would provide a path to citizenship that would take 10 years for DACA recipients and those who were eligible for the program but didn't apply.
The measure would also authorize $2.8 billion for border security, including Trump's $1.6 billion request for a border wall. The deal would change the diversity visa lottery system, with approximately 50,000 slots annually to be used for people in the country who have lost their temporary protected status and some will be used for low immigration countries.
PREVIOUS STORY: President Donald Trump on Thursday referred to Haiti and African nations as "s***hole countries" during a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators at the White House, a Democratic aide briefed on the meeting told NBC News.
Trump's comments were first reported by The Washington Post, which said the group of nations referred to also included El Salvador.
The comments came as senators huddled in the Oval Office with the president to discuss a path forward on an immigration deal. Trump questioned why the United States would want people from nations such as Haiti while he was being briefed on changes to the visa lottery system.
According to the aide, when the group came to discussing immigration from Africa, Trump asked why America would want immigrants from "all these s***hole countries" and that the U.S. should have more people coming in from places like Norway. Thursday's meeting came one day after Trump met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the White House.
A source familiar with Thursday's meeting told NBC News the president was particularly frustrated during discussions about the visa lottery system — a program Trump has railed against repeatedly in recent months. Another White House source explained the language Trump used as his way of trying to emphasize his support for a merit-based immigration system.
The White House issued a statement that did not deny the remarks.
"Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people," White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told NBC Thursday, as part of a lengthy statement that did not directly dispute the language reportedly used in the meeting.
"He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway."
Republican congressional reaction trickled in Thursday night, with some statements critical of the reported language calling on the White House to immediately provide an "explanation" or additional "context."
But Republican Rep. Mia Love — the daughter of Haitian immigrants herself — released a tough statement calling Trump's comments "unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation's values" and demanding an apology from the president.
And Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said in a tweet that the reported remark "ignores the contributions thousands of Haitians have made to our #SoFla community and nation. Language like that shouldn't be heard in locker rooms and it shouldn't be heard in the White House".
It’s not the first time reports have surfaced of Trump speaking unfavorably about immigrants, and Haitians in particular. The New York Times reported in December that Trump said Haitian immigrants "all have AIDS," during a summer 2017 meeting about immigration.
According to the Times, Trump also targeted Nigerian immigrants during that meeting, complaining that once they came the United States they would never "go back to their huts." The White House vigorously denied the claims in the story at the time.