Republican Senator David Perdue of Georgia came to President Trump’s defense Sunday after he said reports of the president’s choice of words during a meeting on immigration last week were “a gross misrepresentation.”
Speaking to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on “This Week,” Perdue slammed reports that Trump used the word “s—hole” to reference Haiti and Africa during a bipartisan immigration meeting on Thursday.
“I’m telling you he did not use that word, George,” Perdue said. “And I’m telling you it’s a gross misrepresentation.”
As Fox News has reported, senators including Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Trump did indeed use those words.
“He said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly,” Durbin told reporters, calling the words “vile and racist.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., responded without stating definitively what the president said.
“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. I’ve always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals,” he said, adding that he appreciated Durbin’s statements and has “enjoyed working with him and many others on this important issue.”
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., had released a joint statement on Friday with Perdue, denying the offensive language.
“President Trump brought everyone to the table this week and listened to both sides. But regrettably, it seems that not everyone is committed to negotiating in good faith. In regards to Senator Durbin’s accusation, we do not recall the President saying these comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest.”
Doubling down on his statement, Perdue reiterated Sunday that Durbin was the only person to make the accusation.
“There were six of us in the room,” Perdue said. “I haven’t heard any of those six sources other than Senator Durbin talk about what was said.”
Building on this doubt, Perdue questioned Durbin’s credibility.
The senator was referencing a 2013 incident when Durbin said in a Facebook post that a House Republican told then-President Barack Obama, “I cannot even stand to look at you,” during a meeting.
The White House and House speaker’s office later denied that these claims were true, Politico reported.
Quick to defend, Durbin’s communications director Ben Marter sent a tweet out Sunday criticizing Perdue’s credibility.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also came to Durbin’s defense.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.