OUTRAGE has been sparked across the globe as Donald Trump allegedly branded a number of countries “sh*tholes”.
While the US President insisted at a private meeting in the Oval Office that he did not say “anything derogatory” about Haitians and appeared to deny calling any countries “sh*tholes”, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who was present, insisted he had repeatedly “said things which are hate-filled, vile and racist”.
On Thursday, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico and the Wall Street Journal all reported the alleged comments, quoting witnesses or people briefed on the meeting. The White House initially did not deny them.
“I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our President speak yesterday,” declared Mr Durbin.
Following an event in the White House on Friday to honour the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King, journalists shouted questions to Mr Trump about the row with one asking: “Are you a racist?” The President did not answer.
At the meeting to discuss immigration reform, which was attended by Democrat and Republican lawmakers, the President was said to have argued that instead of granting temporary residency to citizens of countries hit by natural disasters, war or epidemics, America should instead be taking in migrants from countries like Norway.
“Why are we having all these people from sh*thole countries come here?” the Washington Post quoted him as saying, in remarks thought to be about Haiti, El Salvador and Africa.
Mr Durbin said that when Mr Trump was told that the largest groups of immigrants with Temporary Protected Status were from Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador, the President replied: “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out. Why do we want all these people from Africa here?”
However, Mr Trump took to Twitter to deny the claim, 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!”
The African Union said it was “frankly alarmed” by the words attributed to the President while the Haiti Government claimed they reflected a “racist view” of its country.
Botswana summoned the US ambassador to “express its displeasure” at what it called “highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist” comments
The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People accused Mr Trump of falling “deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of racism and xenophobia”.
But Steve King, a right-wing Republican Congressman from Iowa, backed Mr Trump, tweeting: “Hang in there Mr President @realDonaldTrump. If those countries aren’t as you described, Democrats should be happy to deport criminal aliens back to them.”
Meanwhile, Theresa May’s deputy spokesman, asked about the controversy, declined to comment on “alleged private remarks”.
But asked if the Prime Minister viewed the countries Mr Trump was referring to as “sh*tholes”, he replied: “No.”