Donald Trump; Lindsey Graham (AP/Evan Vucci/Getty/Chip Somodevilla/Salon)

Lindsey Graham wants to "keep talking" to Trump, won't confirm "s**thole countries" comments

Graham said he wouldn't confirm Trump's reported "s**thole" remark because he wants to keep the president's ear


Charlie May
January 18, 2018 10:30PM (UTC)

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina refuses to confirm if President Donald Trump used vulgar and racist language when discussing immigration in a meeting with bipartisan lawmakers. Graham said he refused to comment on Trump's purported vulgar statement because, in Graham's own words, he wants to make sure that he "can keep talking to the president."

In an interview with CNN, Graham was asked if he could detail the events that transpired during a meeting at which he was present, during which Trump reportedly described a group of nation-states as "s**thole countries." When Graham replied "no," CNN's Dana Bash pressed him on why he couldn't elaborate.

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"Because I want to make sure that I can keep talking to the president," Graham replied. "You can keep asking me all day long and I'm going to keep telling you the same thing."

Graham's statement seems to confirm that Trump had said something damaging, at the very least. Otherwise, why would Graham fear losing the ear of the president?

In a meeting with bipartisan lawmakers last week, which involved discussions regarding immigration from Haiti, El Salvador and African nations, the president asked, "Why are we having all these people from s**thole countries come here?" Trump added that he preferred people from countries such as Norway instead, as Salon has previously reported.

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The comments sparked global outrage, as the Salon video below elaborates on.

Graham — who has a history of not listening to his own advice when it comes to Trump — stated that he was frustrated with the president's language during the meeting.

The Washington Post elaborated:

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At one point, Graham told Trump he should use different language to discuss immigration, people briefed on the meeting said.

[...] After Graham left, he told associates that he was disturbed by what he heard in the Oval Office, according to people who spoke with him, and that it was evident the deal’s antagonists had gotten to Trump. Graham and Durbin also told allies that they were stunned that the other lawmakers were present — and that Trump’s tone seemed so different than it had been days or even hours before, according to people close to them.

But Trump's words were not egregious enough for Graham to feel compelled to speak out, nor did they inspire Graham to deem the president to be racist.

"Why don't you ask me 'is he a racist,'" Graham asked Bash.

"Do you think that he is a racist?" she asked the senator.

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He replied, "absolutely not."


Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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