After reports in the Washington Post and the New York Times alleged Thursday that President Donald Trump referred to Haiti and African countries as “shithole countries,” a handful of Republicans quickly came out condemning Trump’s remarks.
But the initial rush by some Republicans to distance themselves from the President’s reported comments did not grow into a wave of GOP condemnation.
Neither House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) nor Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have weighed in on the matter, and most of their rank-and-file members have also stayed mum.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who was present in the Thursday meeting with Trump, backed up reports that Trump referred to African countries as “shithole countries,” and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said that he heard second-hand that Trump made “abhorrent and repulsive” comments in the meeting. However, the Republican lawmakers present in the meeting have declined to acknowledge Trump’s remarks. Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (R-FL) issued a statement saying nothing will “divert” his focus from the DACA negotiations, and Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) issued a joint statement claiming that they “do not recall” Trump making the alleged comment about “shithole countries.”
.@MarioDB (one of the pro-DACA R’s at the “shithole” meeting) is refusing to confirm or deny specifics of convos. "Nothing will divert my focus to stop the deportation of these innocent people whose futures are at stake." pic.twitter.com/owkJXxwlRG
— Cameron Joseph (@cam_joseph) January 12, 2018
One of the few Republicans to publicly denounce Trump’s comments was Rep. Mia Love (R-UT), who is of Haitian descent. She said in a Thursday statement that Trump’s remarks were “unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of out nation’s values,” and she called on the President to apologize.
Here is my statement on the President’s comments today: pic.twitter.com/EdtsFjc2zL
— Rep. Mia Love (@RepMiaLove) January 11, 2018
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) also called for a “detailed explanation” of Trump’s reported remarks and defended America’s tradition of welcoming immigrants from all over the world, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) called Trump’s remarks “highly inappropriate & out of bounds.” Several Florida Republicans, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), and GOP Gov. Rick Scott also criticized Trump’s comments.
Some conservatives also weighed in to defend Trump after his remarks were reported. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), known for his own racist remarks about immigrants, told Trump to “hang in there.”
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 12, 2018