During immigration negotiations between congressional leaders, it’s been widely reported that President Trump said why are we letting people from “sh*thole countries” come here. We have some people who confirm he said these remarks, while others don’t recall it. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) said in a statement:
“In regards to Senator Durbin’s accusation, we do not recall the President saying these comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest. We, along with the President, are committed to solving an issue many in Congress have failed to deliver on for decades.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is the one who confirmed the president said these remarks; Trump has denied such language was used. Here’s a clip of Durbin recollecting the incident (via RCP) [emphasis mine]:
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): In the course of his comments of said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist — he used those words. I understand how powerful they are. But 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.
You’ve seen the comments in the press. I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate. To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words. It is not true. He said these hate-filled things. And he said them repeatedly. When the question was raised about Haitians, for example, we have a group that have temporary protected status in the United States because they were the victims of crises and disasters and political upheaval. The largest group’s El Salvadorians. The second is Honduran and the third is Haitian.
When I mentioned that fact to him, 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 “shitholes,” The exact word used by the president — not just once but repeatedly.
That was the nature of this conversation. When it came to the issue of, quote, “chain migration,” I said to the president, do you realize how painful that term is to so many people? African-Americans believe they migrated to America in chains and when you talk about chain migration, it hurts them personally.
We’ll get back to that in a second. First, you know, Dick Durbin has said some colorful things himself. In 2005, he compared U.S. troops to Nazis, remarks that he was forced to apologize for on the Senate floor (via WaPo):
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) yesterday offered a tearful apology on the Senate floor for comparing the alleged abuse of prisoners by American troops to techniques used by the Nazis, the Soviets and the Khmer Rouge, as he sought to quell a frenzy of Republican-led criticism.
Durbin, the Democratic whip, acknowledged that “more than most people, a senator lives by his words” but that “occasionally words will fail us and occasionally we will fail words.” Choking up, he said: “Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line. To them, I extend my heartfelt apologies.”
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