Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) insisted Sunday that President Donald Trump did not refer to Haiti and some African nations as “s***hole countries” — and they blasted Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for his “history of misrepresenting what happens in White House meetings.”
Some of those in a bipartisan Thursday meeting on immigration reform with Trump later claimed the president used the vulgar term and said he wanted fewer immigrants from those countries to enter the U.S.
Durbin in particular claimed Friday that Trump “used those words, and he used them repeatedly.” But Cotton and Perdue rejected Durbin’s claim and accused him of “misrepresenting” the president’s words.
“I didn’t hear that word, either. I certainly didn’t hear what Sen. Durbin has said repeatedly,” Cotton said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” “Sen. Durbin has a history of misrepresenting what happens in White House meetings, though, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by that.”
He continued, “And I know what Dick Durbin has said about the president’s repeated statements is incorrect.” Cotton noted that Durbin “was corrected” during then-President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House by an administration spokesman after a meeting for misrepresenting what took place.
Perdue blasted Durbin for his “total misrepresentation” of Trump’s comments and also pointed to Durbin’s past difficulty in relaying what took place during the Obama-era meeting.
“In 2013 — the gross misrepresentation was that language was used in [the meeting] that was not used, and also that the tone of that meeting was not contributory and not constructive,” Perdue said Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.”
“In 2013, Sen. Durbin also made the same accusation against a Republican leader in a meeting with President Obama, and said that it was — he chewed out the president. It was so disrespectful to President Obama, we couldn’t even have the meeting,” Perdue said. “That’s what he said in 2013. Later that day, the president’s own press secretary came out and said, and I quote, ‘It did not happen.'”
Perdue told “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos that Trump “did not use that word” in the meeting to refer to Haiti and other countries, despite what Durbin claimed.
“I’m saying that this is a gross misrepresentation. It’s not the first time Sen. Durbin has done it, and it is not productive to solving the problem that we have at hand,” Perdue said.
Both Cotton and Perdue initially said in a joint statement released Friday that they did “not recall the president saying these comments specifically.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who also attended the meeting with Trump, released a vague statement Friday addressing the “comments” the president made during the meeting.
“Following comments by the president, I said my piece directly to him yesterday. The president and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel,” Graham said. “I’ve always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals.”
Trump denied making the comments in a tweet Friday, saying, “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. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings — unfortunately, no trust!”