Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) said in a statement Friday that they “do not recall” whether President Donald Trump called certain countries “shitholes” during a meeting with lawmakers Thursday.
“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,” they said in a joint statement.
In regards to Sen. Durbin’s accusation, @SenTomCotton and I 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. pic.twitter.com/yO2WF11Of3
— David Perdue (@sendavidperdue) January 12, 2018
Cotton and Perdue, both staunch conservatives on immigration, are co-sponsors of the RAISE Act, which aims to dramatically reshuffle how America’s visa application process works in favor of migrants with certain marketable skills. The proposal would disadvantage those with family connections in the United States, relative to the status quo, eliminate the so-called diversity visa lottery and, overall, severely cut the number of immigrants entering the United States legally.
They promoted the legislative effort with President Trump at the White House last August (pictured above).
The Washington Post first reported Thursday that, in reference to Haiti, El Salvador and unnamed African countries, Trump said: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
The White House initially did not deny the report in a statement. Trump, the next day, said that “this was not the language used,” without specifying further what he meant.
But Sen. Dick Durbin, who was in attendance at the meeting, told reporters Friday that Trump called certain countries shitholes “repeatedly.”
And Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said Friday that Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who was in attendance, told him that Trump’s reported comments were “basically accurate.”
Graham has not commented on the reported remark himself. Nor have other attendees at the meeting. According to Politico’s count, that includes House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL).
Diaz-Balart came close, though. “I’m not going to be diverted from all possible efforts to continue to negotiate to reach a deal. So statements at the eleventh hour are not going to distract me,” he said, Politico reported.