On Sunday morning, several Republicans began appearing on TV news shows to claim that President Trump never referred to Haiti and African countries as “s**thole countries,” as it has been widely reported he did in an immigration meeting this week. Later in the morning, though, conservative blogger and radio host Erick Erickson claimed in a tweet that Trump has been bragging to friends about his remark, saying that the president thought it would “play well with the base.”
One of the latest scandals for Donald Trump began on Thursday when, as reported by the Washington Post, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin claimed that the president had become frustrated during a bipartisan meeting on immigration and the DACA program when he was told about protections for immigrants from countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and the continent of Africa, and asked those assembled, “Why are we having all these people from s**thole countries come here?” He was also said to add, about Haiti specifically, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”
Trump publicly remained silent about the remarks himself until Friday morning, when he tweeted that he didn’t use the language reported and that he had never said anything bad about Haiti. The accusations escalated on Friday, according to Huffpost, when Senator Durbin (D-Ill.) doubled down on his claims, adding that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had confronted the president at the meeting and admonished him for his remarks.
Later Friday, according to CNN, Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, who were present at the DACA meeting, claimed they could not recall Trump using the offensive word or targeting Haiti specifically. They did not, at that time, deny that he had used the language reported, just that they could not remember him doing so.
The remarks allegedly made by Trump set off a firestorm of outrage and indignation from many Americans, as well as from the countries reported to be included in the insult. The BBC is reporting that the African Union, an organization representing the combined countries of Africa, has demanded an apology from the president. The country of Botswana, in particular, responded by asking Trump to “clarify if Botswana is regarded as a s**thole country.”
Senator David Perdue (R-GA), according to an article in the New York Post, then appeared on ABC’s This Week program on Sunday to tell host George Stephanopoulos that Trump had never used the word “s**thole” at the meeting, changing his story from when he had previously said that he didn’t recall.
“I’m telling you he did not use that word, George. And I’m telling you it’s a gross misrepresentation.”
Senator Tom Cotton, for his part, appeared Sunday morning on CBS’s Face the Nation to repeat his claim that he didn’t recall the president making the reported remark.
Shortly thereafter, however, conservative writer and media personality Erick Erickson took issue with the Republican senators’ claims and memory. Erickson, who is the host of radio program Atlanta’s Evening News with Erick Erickson, said in a tweet that he had spoken to a friend of Trump’s who claimed that the president had called him and other friends to brag about his remarks, saying that he thought his large base of supporters would love it.
It’s weird that people in the room don’t remember Trump using that word when Trump himself was calling friends to brag about it afterwards. I spoke to one of those friends. The President thought it would play well with the base.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) January 14, 2018
On Friday, AP News reported that an anonymous source, who claims to have spoken directly to Trump, said that Trump had admitted making the remark to them, but the president believed he was merely voicing what many people think, but don’t say publicly.