President Donald Trump denied Sunday that he is a racist after multiple named and unnamed people said that he called Haiti, El Salvador and other African nations “shithole countries” during a meeting Thursday.
The President’s defense came in response to a press pool reporter’s question at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida. After Trump made a remark about the ongoing immigration negotiations, the reporter asked, “Do you think your comments the other day made it harder?”
“Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments?” the President responded. “They weren’t made.”
The reporter asked Trump about those who think he’s a racist.
“No, no, I’m not a racist,” the President replied. “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you.”
NEW: In the wake of his recent comments, Pres. Trump tells reporters in Florida: “I’m not a racist. I’m the least racist person you will ever interview.” https://t.co/uyezMkHhK2 pic.twitter.com/kmThoGOAsA
— ABC News (@ABC) January 15, 2018
Trump has repeatedly made racist remarks, from claiming that Mexican immigrants were rapists who brought drugs and crime with them to America, to saying that there “were very fine people on both sides” of the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last year. Writing in the New York Times opinion section Monday, David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick documented what they called “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List.”
The Washington Post first reported Thursday that Trump called certain countries “shithole countries” during a meeting on immigration Thursday, citing multiple unnamed people in the room, and that he asked “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) later said the Post’s reporting was accurate, as did Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), according to his colleague Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who spoke to the Charleston Post & Courier.
After releasing a joint statement Friday announcing that they “do not recall” whether Trump said what the Post reported he did, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) — both immigration hardliners — claimed Sunday that Durbin had misrepresented the President.
The Trump administration has announced the termination of Temporary Protected Status — a protection from deportation for undocumented people facing armed conflict or environmental disaster in their home countries — for roughly 200,000 Salvadorans, 60,000 Haitians and 2,500 Nicaraguans.