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- Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said President Donald Trump’s “shithole countries” comment is proof he wants the US to be a “white society.”
- “If the president can’t control himself and lead this country with the authority, dignity and leadership it requires, then he shouldn’t be the president,” she said in a Friday statement.
- “There’s no room for racism in the Oval Office.”
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said in a Friday statement that President Donald Trump’s comment referring to what he perceived to be “shithole countries” revealed that he would prefer to see the US be a “homogeneous, white society.”
The comments, which Trump seemed to deny but Democratic and Republican senators have confirmed, have sparked an international firestorm since The Washington Post first reported on them Thursday. The Post reported that Trump asked why the US accepts immigrants from “shithole countries,” such as Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations during an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers earlier in the day.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said.
Trump added that the US should instead accept more immigrants from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he had met the previous day.
“The president’s expressed desire to see more immigrants from countries like Norway must be called out for what it is: an effort to set this country back generations by promoting a homogeneous, white society,” Feinstein said. “The president’s words make the jobs of Americans stationed all over the world harder – soldiers, diplomats and businesses. Hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, LGBT individuals and other minorities have increased over the past two years. White nationalism, which led to the death of a peaceful protester in August, is on the rise.”
“We all need to stop pretending that there are no consequences when the most powerful person in the world espouses racist views and gives a wink and a nod to the darkest elements in our society,” she added. “If the president can’t control himself and lead this country with the authority, dignity and leadership it requires, then he shouldn’t be the president. There’s no room for racism in the Oval Office.”
Earlier on Friday, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who was in the Thursday Oval Office meeting, said Trump made the “hate-filled, vile, and racist” remarks that were reported.
“You’ve seen the comments in the press – I have not read one of them that’s inaccurate,” he said. To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning denying that he using those words. It is not true. He said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”
The group of bipartisan lawmakers were negotiating immigration legislation with the hope of resolving the fate of young immigrants protected from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which the administration is phasing out. Earlier this week, the administration announced it would end Temporary Protected Status for 200,000 Salvadorans, 45,000 Haitians, and 2,500 Nicaraguans.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, also in the meeting, confirmed Trump’s comments to fellow South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott, who told The Post & Courier that the remarks which were reported were “basically accurate,” according to Graham.
Trump sought to knock down the onslaught of negative attention in a series of Friday tweets. Trump said he used “tough” language in the meeting but suggested the vulgar remark reported was “not the language used.”
Republican Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, both close allies of Trump, said in a statement that they did “not recall” Trump making the remark during the Thursday meeting.
Earlier this week, Trump went after Feinstein for unilaterally releasing an interview transcript from Fusion GPS’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Feinstein is the top Democrat. Fusion GPS is the firm that commissioned the dossier containing allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
“The fact that Sneaky Dianne Feinstein, who has on numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found, would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way, totally without authorization, is a disgrace,” he tweeted. “Must have tough Primary!”