It’s a game of he said/she said in Washington.
Fox News host Chris Wallace grilled Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Sunday, asking her about the president’s alleged comment calling Haiti and African nations “s—hole countries” and expressing doubt at her claim that she did not recall the remark.
“I don’t recall him saying that exact phrase,” Nielsen said.
“I’m just going to press back on you once on the subject,” Wallace responded. “It seems to me — you were in the meeting when these comments were made. I can understand you either saying they were said or they were not said.”
The Fox News host 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.”
The Homeland Security secretary maintained her stance, saying “It was an impassioned conversation. I don’t recall that specific phrase being used. That’s all I can say about that.”
Wallace suggested the president’s alleged comment was racist for calling for less immigration from majority-black countries like Haiti while welcoming immigration from majority-white countries like Norway.
“There are several things about the president’s comments … that disturbed people. One is the president seems to be writing off people who come from black countries while he’s saying we should take people coming from one of the whitest counties on Earth–Norway.”
He went on to call such thinking the “definition of racism” and argued “the president seems in these comments to be equating merit to the countries that people come from. He seems to be suggesting you’d rather have a janitor from Norway than a doctor from Haiti.”
Nielsen fired back:
“I take a little bit of offense to the comments and suggestions that the president is racist. What he’s looking at is the exact merit-based system we have in Australia and Canada, and I am sure that we are not any of us suggesting that Canada and Australia and their leaders are racist.”
President Trump denied using the word “s—hole” during his White House meeting on immigration with lawmakers last week.
The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
Senators Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., who were at the meeting, have denied President Trump used the vulgar word, while Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have insisted the president did say it.