(Getty/Mark Wilson)

No cover: Republicans don’t back up Trump’s “s**thole” denials

Republicans are in an awkward position: Admit what Trump said, or provide him cover? They’re trying both!


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Matthew Sheffield
January 12, 2018 7:05pm (UTC)

Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina became the first member of his party to confirm that President Donald Trump had referred to non-European countries — as well as the entire continent of Africa — as "shitholes" during a congressional meeting Thursday.

Scott told the Charleston Post and Courier that his South Carolina colleague, Lindsey Graham, had told him that media reports of Trump making racially tinged remarks at a Thursday immigration summit were “basically accurate.”

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who was also present in the meeting, in a written statement said that Trump “repeatedly” used language that was “hate-filled, vile, and racist.”

“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,” Durbin said.

At a public event in Milwaukee, when asked about the meeting, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said that Trump had made "very unfortunate, unhelpful" remarks. He did not confirm or deny that Trump had said anything offensive.

But on Friday morning, Trump was issuing a denial that he used the word "s**thole" — though not anything else he reportedly said during the meeting.

Trump's out-of-nowhere comment — the White House didn't even deny Trump used the term on Thursday night — was probably a response to "Fox & Friends," which denounced Trump's language.

So here's where we are: No Republicans in Congress denied  that Trump had used profanities in his characterizations of Africa and Haiti. The closest that Trump came to a defense came from two Republicans in the meeting: They said merely that they did "not recall" Trump using "s**thole."

The controversy provoked a response from Botswana which formally asked the American ambassador to the African nation "to clarify if Botswana is regarded as a 'shithole' country."

Trump did get some support, though, from Steve King, an Iowa Republican congressman who has made several statements in favor of white nationalists over the years:


Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via m.sheffield@salon.com or follow him on Twitter.

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