Following reports that President Donald Trump had described Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “shithole countries” during an immigration meeting, two GOP lawmakers who were at the meeting released a joint statement in which they said they “do not recall” Trump making those comments. Meanwhile, both Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) claimed that the president did indeed make those remarks.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday today, new DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen embraced the “do not recall” talking point tossed out in the statement released by Sens. David Perdue and Tom Cotton. After Nielsen told host Chris Wallace that she didn’t remember Trump using that “exact phrase” and that Trump will “use strong language” when it comes to immigration, Wallace pushed back against her explanation.
“I’m just going to press back on you once on the subject,” the Fox News host said. “It seems to me — you were in the meeting when these comments were made. I can understand you either saying they were sad or they were not said.”
Wallace continued, “It is pretty shocking language and to say I don’t recall seems impossible. If the President of the United States used the word blank-hole talking about countries in the oval office or didn’t say it, I would know.”
Nielsen responded by stating that she understood Wallace’s question and that it “was an impassioned conversation” that occurred at the immigration meeting. She then reiterated that she didn’t “recall that specific phrase being used.”
Both Perdue and Cotton appeared on Sunday shows as well today and doubled down on their statement, with Perdue saying it was a “gross misrepresentation” to say Trump called those countries shitholes.
Watch the clip above, via Fox News.
[image via screengrab]