Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is firing back at President Donald Trump after he denied he called Haiti, El Salvador and African countries "shithole countries," saying that the president's denials "are not true."
“In the course of his comments, [the president] said things that were hate-filled, vile and racist,” Sen. Durbin told reporters during an impromptu press conference on Friday. “I cannot believe in this history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.”
Durbin was among several lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the meeting during which Trump reportedly referred to Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries," according to the Washington Post.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” The Washington Post quotes Trump as saying.
"The most disheartening thing to me is my belief that that was the first time words that hateful had been spoken in the Oval Office of the White House," Durbin added.
Durbin said the comments arose out of a discussion about immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti who have been granted a temporary protected status in the U.S. thanks to disasters and political upheaval in their home countries.
"He said, 'Haitians? Do we need more Haitians?' And then he went on when we started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. That's when he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from 'shitholes,'" Durbin told reporters. "The exact word used by the president, not just once, but repeatedly."
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) tweeted that the comments were "abhorrent and repulsive" while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said Trump's comments were "appalling."
The Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-Wis) responded to Trump's remarks during a Q&A session at the University of Milwaukee saying the comments were "very unfortunate," and "unhelpful" to
The words used by the President, as related to me directly following the meeting by those in attendance, were not “tough,” they were abhorrent and repulsive.— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) January 12, 2018
My dad came from what I guess Trump would call a "shithole" country. He was able to come to the U.S. and became a very proud American. pic.twitter.com/FXbTu8i1HJ— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 12, 2018
The U.S. Ambassador to Panama resigned his post a day after Trump's comments, writing in a resignation letter that he can no longer serve the administration.
“As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the President and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies.
“My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor-bound to resign. That time has come.”