Trump denies describing certain nations as 's***hole countries'

Trump questioned why the U.S. should permit immigrants from "s***hole countries" as he rejected a plan that changed rules affecting entrants from Africa and Haiti. (WLS)

President Donald Trump on Friday denied describing certain nations as "s***hole countries" during a meeting in which he rejected a bipartisan deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

He also denied demanding that Haitians be removed from negotiations about protected status for people from certain countries.

"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!" Trump tweeted.

White House spokesperson Raj Shah did not deny the "s***hole" remark on Thursday evening, but instead said in a statement that 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 later tweeted Friday morning 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. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!"

A source familiar with the meeting told CNN's Jake Tapper the President did not refer to Haiti as a "s***hole" country but Trump did ask why the US needs more Haitians and pushed to "take them out" of the deal. In a separate part of the conversation about the diversity visa lottery, the source said, Trump referred to people coming from Africa as coming from "s***hole countries."

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who was briefed by Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and a fellow GOP Senator who attended the meeting, confirmed that version of events to CNN.

Several local leaders spoke on the president's vulgar remarks Friday morning before the Chicago's 32nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Breakfast, including Durbin, a key negotiator in DACA talks.



"He said, 'Haitians. Do we need more Haitians?' Then he went on and 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 's***holes.' The exact word used by the President. Not just once but repeatedly. That was the nature of this conversation," Durbin said Friday.

Durbin told reporters he had not seen a single news report about the President's words that was false.

"I've not read one of them that's inaccurate," Durbin said. "He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly."

DACA protects hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.

Trump on Thursday rejected a pitch from a bipartisan team of senators on a compromise immigration deal to protect DACA participants while increasing border security.

"Why do we want all these people from 's***hole countries' coming here?" Trump told senators in the Oval Office, according to a source briefed on the meeting, the comments from which were first reported by The Washington Post.

Tweets threaten deal

Trump's denial came among a series of other tweets in which he defended his immigration stance.

"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.....," Trump tweeted.

He continued: "....countries which are doing badly. 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. 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!"

He also said: "Sadly, Democrats want to stop paying our troops and government workers in order to give a sweetheart deal, not a fair deal, for DACA. Take care of our Military, and our Country, FIRST!"

The tweets suggest that Trump is interested in a system that would only accept individuals from certain countries and backgrounds in exchange for a DACA deal -- as well as a much more substantial border investment than one year of funding and technology upgrades the lawmakers had presented.

Democrats have made clear they would not consider some of the suggestions and the demands risk exacerbating already tense talks as both sides are entrenched in negotiating position.

While some Republicans hope to gain leverage by dragging out negotiations and increase the risk that DACA recipients could lose status and even be deported, advocates have made clear to Democrats they should feel empowered to reject a deal that benefits DACA immigrants at the expense of scores of others and their families.

Trump's agreement has always been essential to any immigration deal. Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, reiterated on Thursday after the White House meeting that a deal would only move for a vote with a clear message from the President that he would sign it.

Paul Ryan says Trump's slur against African immigrants is 'unfortunate, unhelpful'

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday called President Donald Trump's comments on immigration "unhelpful," in his first reaction to news that Trump referred to African nations as "s***hole" countries.

"I read those comments later last night, the first thing that came to my mind was very unfortunate, unhelpful," the Wisconsin Republican said at WisPolitics Luncheon in Milwaukee.

Ryan recalled his own family history of emigrating to the US from Ireland.

"So I see this as a thing to celebrate," he said. "And I think it's a big part of our strength."

El Salvador government sends letter of protest

The government of El Salvador sent the U.S. State Department an official letter of protest Friday from the country's embassy in Washington, D.C.

The government said in a statement about the letter that it firmly rejected the kind of statements made by Trump Thursday and highlighted the "high value of Salvadorans," including "their contribution to the reconstruction works at the Pentagon after the terrible terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 as well as their contribution to rebuild New Orleans in the aftermath of the devastating hurricane Katrina."

The letter also highlighted the role El Salvador played, hand-in-hand with the U.S., in international peace missions, the statement said.

"El Salvador demands respect for the dignity of its noble and brave people within the framework of the principles governing the relations between States and in the context of the prevailing historical ties between our nations which we will continue to work to strengthe," the statement said.

WLS-TV contributed to this report.

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