President Trump hit back Friday at the growing outrage over reports that he questioned why the U.S. was taking immigrants from “s—hole” countries, claiming the remarks attributed to him are wrong while taking aim at a so-called immigration “deal” touted by a group of senators.
In a flurry of tweets, Trump both defended his immigration stance while claiming the reports about his meeting were inaccurate.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!” Trump tweeted early Friday.
The “language” the president referred to came during talks Thursday with lawmakers at the White House. Despite Trump’s denial, multiple sources have confirmed what was said, and the White House did not deny it overnight.
“Why are we having all these people from s—hole countries come here?” the president said, according to sources, apparently referring to people from Haiti, as well as some Central American and African countries. He reportedly added that the U.S. should admit more people from countries like Norway.
Later Friday morning, though, Trump went on to deny having said anything “derogatory” about Haitians.
“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!” Trump tweeted.
The accounts of the meeting drew condemnation from global leaders as well as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.
Utah Republican Rep. Mia Love, a Haitian-American, said the president’s comments were “unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values.”
Amid the backlash, the president on Friday also slammed the supposed “DACA deal,” which a group senators were hammering out with the goal of extending protection for young illegal immigrants brought to the country as children. Trump on Friday detailed what he thinks is missing from the plan.
“The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressman was a big step backwards. Wall was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly,” Trump tweeted Friday.
The reference to high-crime countries seemed to be an explanation of the concerns Trump expressed about certain nations at Thursday’s meeting.
The “deal” in question was introduced to the president by a group of six senators—Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Cory Gardner, R-Co., and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Michael Bennett, D-Co., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J. They did not detail what was included in their deal.
“We have been working for four months and have reached an agreement in principle that addresses border security, the diversity visa lottery, chain migration/family reunification, and the Dream Act –the areas outlined by the president,” the senators wrote in a joint statement. “We are now working to build support for that deal in Congress.”
Democrats are working to preserve the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was ended by Trump in September.
Trump has said he will only agree to a deal with Congress on immigration if it includes funding for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I want a merit based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level. I want safety and security for our people. I want to stop the massive inflow of drugs. I want to fund our military, not do a Dem defund,” Trump tweeted minutes later.
He added: “Because of the Democrats not being interested in life and safety, DACA has now taken a big step backwards. The Dems will threaten ‘shutdown,’ but what they are really doing is shutting down our military, at a time when we need it most. Get smart, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Congress has until Jan. 19 to pass a temporary spending bill to prevent a government shutdown.
The president tweeted again, moments later, blasting Democrats for their approach.
“Sadly, Democrats want to stop paying our troops and government workers in order to give a sweetheart deal, not a fair deal, for DACA. Take care of our Military, and our Country, FIRST!”
Fox News’ Alex Pappas, John Roberts and Serafin Gomez contributed to this report.