Durbin Says Graham Confronted Trump on 'Shithole' Comments with 'Extraordinary Political Courage'
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) confirmed that he said his "piece" to President Trump in an Oval Office meeting Thursday at which the commander in chief allegedly derided immigrants from "shithole" countries.
Graham, who was one of a handful of senators inside the meeting to discuss immigration reform, issued a statement that touched on his version of what unfolded as another lawmaker in the room, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), told MSNBC that Graham confronted Trump on his remarks.
The Washington Post reported that Trump made the comment during an Oval Office meeting with immigration negotiators. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, suggesting that more immigrants be brought into the country from places like Norway or Asia.
“Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump reportedly said. “Take them out.”
White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement in response to the Washington Post report that "like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.”
Trump tweeted this morning, "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!"
"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!" the president added.
Durbin said in a statement today that "in the course of his comments, President Trump said things that were hate-filled, vile, and racist."
"He used those words, and he used them repeatedly," Durbin said. "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."
He recounted to reporters what he heard: "He said, 'Haitians? Do we need more Haitians?' And then he went on when we started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. That's when he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from 'shitholes.' The exact word used by the president, not just once, but repeatedly."
The Senate minority whip also told MSNBC today that Graham "spoke up and made a direct comment on what the president said."
Durbin said that for Graham "to confront the president as he did, literally sitting next to him, took extraordinary political courage and I respect him for it."