Trump denies ‘shithole countries’ comments, insists: ‘I’m not a racist’
search

Trump denies ‘shithole countries’ comments, insists: ‘I’m not a racist’

Following global firestorm, US president says widely panned statements denouncing immigrants from Africa and Haiti 'weren't made'

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach on January 14, 2018. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)
US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach on January 14, 2018. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

US President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that he was “not a racist,” after his reported denunciation of immigration from “shithole countries” triggered a global firestorm of criticism.

“I’m not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you,” Trump told reporters at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he was having dinner with Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The president also denied making the statements attributed to him, but didn’t get into specifics about what he did or did not say.

“Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments?” he asked. “They weren’t made.”

Trump on Friday tweeted a convoluted denial about the comments, which were reported by The Washington Post and The New York Times and confirmed by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who attended the meeting at which they were said to have been spoken.

The alleged expletive came during a Thursday meeting between Trump and legislators about immigration reform.

After lawmakers raised the issue of protections for immigrants from African nations, Haiti and El Salvador, the president reportedly demanded to know why the United States should accept immigrants from “shithole countries,” rather than — for instance — wealthy and overwhelmingly white Norway.

A confidant of Trump’s told The Associated Press that the president spent Thursday evening calling friends and outside advisers to judge their reaction on his inflammatory remarks.

He wasn’t apologetic, the person said. Instead, Trump blamed the media for distorting his meaning, arguing his description of “shithole” was not racist but rather a straightforward assessment of some nations’ depressed conditions. Trump also said he believed he was expressing what many people think, according to the person.

Trump said Sunday that he was trying to clinch an immigration deal, but that his Democratic rivals were unhelpful.

“We’re ready, willing and able to make a deal on DACA,” Trump said, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that protects immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children. “I don’t think Democrats want to make a deal. The folks from DACA should know the Democrats are the ones that aren’t going to make a deal.”

Trump announced in September he was scrapping the program, but with a six-month lag — meaning those covered by DACA would be subject to deportation starting March.

Thousands of immigrants and supporters join the Defend DACA March to oppose the President Trump order to end DACA on September 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (David McNew/Getty Images/AFP)

Democratic lawmakers “don’t want security at the border,” Trump said. “You got people pouring in. They don’t want to stop drugs. and they want to take money away from our military, which we cannot do.”

Analysts and businesses say the economy could lose $215 billion in GDP if the 800,000 so-called “Dreamers” leave the labor pool, at a time when many firms are finding it hard to fill open positions.

A US judge this week ordered the federal government to reinstate DACA pending final judgment on the justification for overturning it.

That would allow Dreamers to apply to renew their status under the program implemented by President Barack Obama in 2012, unless overturned by a higher court.

read more:
comments