Trump says he is not a racist, never used the term s***hole

Trump appeared to give up for dead an immigration deal, coming back on the issue in a pair of early morning tweets after reportedly referring to African and Haitian immigrants as coming from “shithole countries”.

world Updated: Jan 15, 2018 22:01 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
AFP, Washington
Donald Trump,Trump racism,Dreamers Act
US President Donald Trump speaks as he and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy arrive for dinner at Trump's golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida.(Reuters Photo)

Triggering a global storm with a blatantly racial comment about Haiti, El Salvador and African countries during a White House discussion on immigration, US President Donald Trump on Sunday denied he had used the term “s***hole” and insisted he isn’t a racist.

“I’m not a racist,’ Trump told reporters at his Florida resort in response to a question. “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you.”

He also denied calling the nations in question “s***hole” countries. “Well, did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments? They weren’t made.”

Two Republican senators have backed Trump, but at least one other Republican senator and a Democrat senator have confirmed Trump did use the term.

Trump had used the phrase while he was discussing doing away with a visa lottery system that the United States has used to allow people from countries that are not a major source of immigrants. He favours switching to a merit-based system.

To a proposal that visas saved by ending this lottery could be used to regularise those already in the system, mostly people from Haiti, El Salvador and some African countries, he reportedly said: “Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?”

Criticism has continued unabated since, at home and abroad. South Africa issued a demarche on Monday, seeking an explanation to Trump’s “crude and offensive” statement and the African Union, an association of all 55 countries in continental Africa, has demanded a retraction of the comment and an apology. Botswana called the remark “racist”.

The White House had not denied the remark in response to the first flush of criticism. Trump himself tweeted that some “tough” language was used, but he did not entirely denying using the word.

Protesters during a demonstration against US President Donald Trump during a rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), also known as Dream Act, near the Trump Tower in New York. (AFP File Photo)

This is not the first time that Trump has been confronted with accusations of racism. After race-related violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, for instance, he had infamously said there were some “very nice people” on both sides, including among white supremacists.

He had launched his presidential bid in 2015 railing against “rapists” and “murderers” from Mexico, and as a candidate he routinely slammed Black Lives Matter, a modern-day civil rights movement.

His “s***hole” remark has been welcomed by some right-wing elements. “Just as the most ardent Trump supporters were about to give up on him in despair -- he restores a lot of love in us by saying blunt but truthful things that no other President in our lifetime would dare say! NO DACA! NO COMPROMISE - NO S***hole America! Hail Trump!” David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, tweeted.

First Published: Jan 15, 2018 08:04 IST