U.S. President Donald Trump has denied calling Haiti and African countries "a shithole" at a White House meeting on Thursday. Issuing a denial on Twitter on Friday, the president acknowledged that he had used "tough language," but not the poetic phrase attributed to him.
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Trump went on to deny having said "anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country."
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who was present at the meeting told reporters Friday that the media reports were accurate, and that Trump had used the term attributed to him.
"I cannot believe that in the history of the White House — in that Oval Office — any president has spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday."
Sources said on Thursday that Trump had questioned why the United States would want to have immigrants from Haiti and African nations, which he described as "shithole countries."
Trump's comments in the Oval Office were part of a discussion with Democratic Senator Durbin and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who were briefing the president on a newly drafted immigration bill being touted by a bipartisan group of senators, according to sources.
The senators were discussing protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.
The Haiti government said on Friday that the comment reflects a "racist view of the Haitian community."
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday that Trump's comments were unfortunate and unhelpful, CNN reported.
The United Nations human rights office on Friday rejected as "racist" and inciting xenophobia Trump's reported remarks.
The Anti-Defamation League called Trump's words "shameful and profoundly offensive," adding that they were "beneath the dignity of the office."
The American Jewish Committee stated "People have a fundamental dignity. True, we cant accept everyone – but all deserve the chance to try, pursue the American dream and contribute their talents to our nation of immigrants."