Sen. Tim Scott reacts to Trump's alleged 'sh**hole countries' immigration comments
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and other lawmakers are reacting to President Donald Trump's alleged vulgar remarks Thursday during a closed-door meeting on immigration reform, in which Trump is accused of referring to several nations at the center of the immigration debate as "sh**hole countries."
According to a Washington Post report, lawmakers inside the meeting confirm Trump used the "sh**hole countries" remark in reference Haiti, El Salvador and various African nations.
The president's comments allegedly came after growing frustration with the suggestion that the U.S. restore DACA protections for immigrants from those countries. Trump reportedly questioned why the United States should accept more immigrants from those countries, as opposed to more developed nations, such as Norway.
"If these comments are the president’s words, they are disappointing to say the least," Scott said in a statement Thursday. "The American family was born from immigrants fleeing persecution and poverty and searching for a better future. Our strength lies in our diversity, including those who came here from Africa, the Caribbean and every other corner of the world. To deny these facts would be to ignore the brightest part of our history."
Trump has denied that he made the remarks, saying on Twitter Friday morning that he used "tough" language, but not the vulgar remarks alleged.
"[I] never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country," Trump tweeted. "Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians."
"What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!" Trump added.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who was in the meeting with President Trump, rebuked the president's denial of the "sh**hole countries" comment Friday morning in an interview with CNN.
"To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words," Durbin said. "It is not true. He said these hateful things, and he said them repeatedly."
Durbin claims he and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who was also in the meeting, were presenting their plan on immigration reform to the president. Durbin says Trump interrupted them several times with questions, at which point Durbin claims Trump said things which were "hate-filled, vile and racist."
"I use those words advisedly. I understand how powerful they are," Durbin says.
Durbin has told multiple media outlets that Graham objected to President Trump's phrasing.
"For him to confront the president as he did, literally sitting next to him, took extraordinary political courage and I respect him for it," Durbin said, according to a CBS News tweet.
ABC News 4 has reached out to Graham's staff for comment but has not received a response. Graham also has not publicly addressed the allegations against the president.
President Trump in September 2017 announced the White House would be ending the DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals) program, which was implemented by President Barack Obama in 2012 to allow children of illegal immigrants to remain in the United States without fear of deportation.
The Trump administration's decision to end DACA, according to Durbin, would cost more than 100,000 so-called "Dreamers" their protected status.
Durbin says most people who have come to the U.S. and are receiving or are eligible for DACA protection are "victims of crises, disasters and political upheaval" in El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti.
Durbin says Trump's alleged vulgar remarks came when he pointed out that information to the president.
"When I mentioned that fact to him, [Trump] said, ‘Haitians? Do we need more Haitians?’ And then he went on and started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure," Durbin said. "That’s when he used his vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from ‘sh**holes’ — the exact word used by the president, not once, but repeatedly.”
South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston, has not formally commented on Trump's alleged remarks but did publish a conspicuously timed Bible verse on his Twitter account Friday morning.
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. -Ephesians 4:23," Sanford wrote.