Reports that U.S. President Donald Trump used a vulgar term to describe Haiti and African nations have been confirmed by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, who was in an Oval Office meeting Thursday when the President called them "s---hole countries."
Durbin, the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, described the president's words as "hateful, vile and racist." He said Twitter denials by Trump are "not true. He said these hate-filled things. And he said them repeatedly."
Trump took to Twitter on Friday to deny using the vulgar term during a White House meeting Thursday on immigration.
In another Twitter post, the president wrote that he "never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very troubled and poor country." The president said he has a wonderful relationship with Haitians and suggested future meetings probably should be recorded.
Durbin said when the issue of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for Haitian immigrants in the U.S. was raised, the president responded "Haitians. Do we need more Haitians?" Durbin recounted that Trump went on to discuss similarly protected immigration from Africa, "calling the nations they come from s---holes."
The comments, first reported Thursday by The Washington Post, were made during a presentation by Durbin and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham about bipartisan legislation to protect from deportation those immigrants who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children by their parents. Durbin noted that Graham confronted the president about his remarks.
The president also asked why the United States would allow more immigrants from Haiti and Africa rather than countries like Norway. The president met with Norway's prime minister Wednesday.
At the United Nations on Friday, when VOA asked Norway's foreign minister for reaction to the president's comments, Norway's foreign minister replied "I don't think right now," before hurrying to a meeting with the U.N. secretary-general.
Tried to doorstep @norwaymfa Ine Eriksen Søreide at #UN today on #POTUS comments preferring #Norwegian immigrants to those from #Haiti & #Africa. #NoComment Video by @whitney_hurst pic.twitter.com/9OAmVs9YKF— Margaret Besheer (@mbesheer) January 12, 2018
VOA correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.