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Trump takes aim at Democratic senator over leak of 's***hole countries' comments

Without explicitly denying his use of the word, Trump said the senator had misrepresented what he said about African nations.

Image: DPA/PA Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has turned his Twitter torment on the Democrat who was in the room when he referred to African nations as “shithole countries” last week.

Senator Dick Durbin was in the room for immigration talks with lawmakers when things took a course turn as the President questioned why the US would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa.

Without explicitly denying his use of the word, Trump took aim at the Senator, accusing him of misrepresenting what he said about African nations.

Tweet by @Donald J. Trump Source: Donald J. Trump/Twitter

He referred to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects young people who came to the US illegally as children. Members of Congress from both parties are trying to strike a deal that Trump would support to extend that protection.

Durbin said yesterday that the White House should release whatever recording it might have of the meeting.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the six senators in the meeting with Trump on Thursday, supported Durbin’s account.

‘Shithouse’

As well, Durbin and people who were briefed on the conversation, but were not authorised to describe it publicly said Trump also questioned the need to admit more Haitians. They said Trump expressed a preference for immigrants from countries like Norway, which is overwhelmingly white.

Republican Senators David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who also attended, initially said they did not hear Trump utter the word in question, then revised their account to deny he said it at all.

There is some internal West Wing debate over whether Trump said “shithole” or “shithouse.” One person who attended the meeting told aides they heard the latter expletive, while others recall the president saying the more widely reported “shithole,” according to a person briefed on the meeting but not authorised to speak publicly about private conversations.

The person believes the discrepancy may be why some Republican senators are denying having heard the president say “shithouse.”

Trump has not clarified to aides what he said. The White House has not denied that Trump used a vulgar term, and there appears to be little difference in meaning between the two words.

The reverberations kept coming yesterday.

‘Work on this man’s heart’

Martin Luther King III, King’s elder son, said: “When a president insists that our nation needs more citizens from white states like Norway, I don’t even think we need to spend any time even talking about what it says and what it is.”

He added, “We got to find a way to work on this man’s heart.”

A sizeable crowd of expatriate Haitians, waving their country’s flag, gathered near the foot of a bridge leading to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, to jeer at Trump as the motorcade returned from the golf club where the president capped his weekend before returning later Monday to Washington.

The Haitians and their supporters shouted, “Our country is not a shithole,” according to video posted by WPEC-TV, and engaged in a shouting match with the pro-Trump demonstrators who typically gather on the other side of the street.

On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence, who worshipped at a Baptist church in Maryland, listened as the pastor denounced Trump’s use of vulgarity.

Maurice Watson, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Largo, called the reported remark “dehumanising” and “ugly” and said “whoever made such a statement … is wrong and they ought to be held accountable.” Worshippers stood and applauded as Watson spoke.

Durbin said after the Oval Office meeting that Trump’s words to the senators were “vile, hate-filled and clearly racial in their content.”

A confidant of Trump told The Associated Press that the president spent Thursday evening calling friends and outside advisors to judge their reaction to his remarks. Trump wasn’t apologetic and denied he was racist, said the confidant.

‘A wonderful relationship’

Afterward Trump insisted in a tweet that he “never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems.” Trump wrote, “I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians”.

Also today, North Korea’s state-run media said Trump’s tweet about having a bigger nuclear button than Kim Jong Un’s is the “spasm of a lunatic”.

Trump’s controversial “nuclear button” tweet was in response to Kim’s New Year’s Day warning that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is a real threat and that he has a nuclear launch button on his desk at all times.

He had said:

“I too have a nuclear button, but it is much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my button works!”

Trump has more recently suggested he might be willing to meet with Kim, and reportedly told the Wall Street Journal the two “probably have a very good relationship.”

Read: After worldwide backlash following s***hole comments Trump says: ‘I’m not a racist’>

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Associated Press

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