President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that, contrary to the breathless reporting of the night before, he never called Haiti a "shithole," but instead said that "Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country."
"Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country," Trump tweeted.
The comment comes lawmakers joined the president in the Oval Office on Thursday for a bipartisan discussion on protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and several African countries, The Washington Post reported.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, several people briefed on the meeting told the Post.
Speak about Haitians specifically, Trump said, “Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump said, according to people familiar with the meeting. “Take them out.”
Trump, in his Friday morning tweet, denied he said "take them out," as well. "Never said 'take them out.' Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!"
But one of the Democrats at the meeting, Senator Dick Durbin pushed back on Trump's denial.
"It's not true," Durbin reportedly said. "He said those hateful things, and he said them repeatedly."
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Sen. Dick Durbin now knocking down Trump's denial: "It's not true. He said those hateful things, and he said them repeatedly."</p>— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) <a href="https://twitter.com/GeoffRBennett/status/951820707461296128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 12, 2018</a></blockquote>
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CNN's Jake Tapper also reported fresh information about the Thursday night exchange, supporting Trump's claim that he didn't call Haiti a "shithole," but that he instead reserved the slur for African countries.
"The president did not refer to Haiti as a 'shithole' country," Tapper said, citing a "source familiar with the meeting."
"Though he DID say it about countries in Africa," Tapper added.
Tapper said Trump's "take them out" comment referred to taking them out of a potential bill that would offer temporary protected status to certain immigrants.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus had requested that several African countries be included in the immigration deal, according to a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity, the Post reported.
"[I]n a separate part of the conversation when they were referencing the diversity visa lottery, President Trump referred to people coming from Africa as coming from 'shithole countries,'" Tapper reported.