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Trump denies ‘s***hole’ remark, Democratic senator disagrees

During a meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform, US President Donald Trump reportedly called African and other nations “s***hole” countries.

world Updated: Jan 12, 2018 23:57 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,Shithole countries,Donald Trump shithole countries
US President Donald Trump during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington on January 10.(REUTERS)

After triggering outrage across continents, President Donald Trump on Friday denied using the word “s***hole” to describe Haiti and African countries during a White House meeting on immigration and said he had only used “tough” language.

During a meeting with lawmakers on Thursday, Trump had questioned why the US would want to have immigrants from Haiti and African nations, people who were present told the media.

“Why do we have all these people from s***hole countries coming here?” Trump had said during a discussion on a legislation to grant citizenship to undocumented people brought to the US as children.

Despite Trump’s denial, Democratic senator Dick Durbin, who was present at the meet, said the president repeatedly used the term “s***hole” during discussions, and said “things that were hate-filled, vile and racist”.

The New York Times later reported the same comment, citing unnamed people with direct knowledge of the meeting.

Trump’s remarks sparked outrage. The African Union said it was “alarmed”, with its spokesperson telling AP: “Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behaviour and practice.”

UN human rights commission spokesperson Rupert Colvile told a briefing: “There is no other word one can use but ‘racist’.”

Haiti’s embassy in Washington said it had sought an explanation from US officials, while Botswana officially asked the US ambassador whether Trump considers the nation a “s***hole” country, describing the American president’s disparaging comments about African countries as “reprehensible and racist”.

Trump’s remarks were also slammed at home.

“President Trump may speak as the President of the United States, but he doesn’t speak presidentially or for the United States,” Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthy, a Democrat, tweeted.

Bill Kristol, a conservative NeverTrumper, tweeted: “Oprah would not, in an Oval Office meeting with senators, use the term ‘s***hole (countries)’.” Kristol has been urging talk-show host Oprah Winfrey to run for presidentship.

The White House rushed to contain the outrage.

“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” deputy press secretary Raj Shah said. “Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation,” he said.

(With inputs from Agencies)

First Published: Jan 12, 2018 20:55 IST