A Senior Republican Senator Admonishes Trump: ‘American Is an Idea, Not a Race’

WASHINGTON — It was simply after President Trump had completed railing within the Oval Office towards African immigrants he mentioned got here from “shithole countries” when a senior Republican senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who was there to barter a deal on immigration, spoke up.

“America is an idea, not a race,” Mr. Graham mentioned, in response to three individuals accustomed to the trade on Thursday. Diversity was a power, he mentioned, not a weak spot. And by the best way, the senator added, he himself was a descendant of immigrants who got here to the United States from “shithole countries with no skills.”

Mr. Trump’s racially charged feedback in entrance of greater than half a dozen lawmakers, which additionally prolonged to immigrants from Haiti — adopted by a day during which members of Congress denounced the president, defended him or stayed silent — now threaten what had been an rising settlement to guard undocumented immigrants dropped at the United States as kids.

Several individuals with information of the dialog mentioned the president had additionally demanded to know whether or not Haitian immigrants may very well be not noted of any deal. The White House has not disputed the account of the trade.

The collapse of negotiations on an immigration deal would increase the chance of a authorities shutdown subsequent week, on condition that many Democrats have mentioned such an settlement should be included in any measure to proceed funding the federal government previous a Jan. 19 deadline.

To attempt to steer the political narrative, the president took to Twitter on Friday with a obscure account of the assembly, saying his remarks on the assembly have been “powerful, however this was not the language used.”

But Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who additionally attended the assembly on immigration, instructed reporters on Friday that the president had used the expletive a number of occasions, and had mentioned “things which were 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,” Mr. Durbin mentioned.

Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, instructed The Post and Courier of Charleston that Mr. Graham had associated Mr. Trump’s remarks to him after the assembly, and he known as information experiences about them “basically accurate” based mostly on that account.

According to 3 individuals briefed in regards to the assembly, it featured a dramatic second between the president and Mr. Graham, who referred to Mr. Trump through the 2016 presidential marketing campaign as a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot,” however who has not too long ago grown near the president and has suggested him on immigration coverage.

After Mr. Trump disparaged African nations in foul phrases, they mentioned, Mr. Graham answered with an impassioned protection of immigrants and immigration as important to the American beliefs of range and inclusion.

Mr. Graham has not responded to repeated requests for touch upon the president’s remarks or his personal. But on Friday, he launched a assertion that appeared to substantiate the tenor of each.

“Following comments by the president, I said my piece directly to him yesterday,” Mr. Graham mentioned. “The president and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel. I’ve always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals.”

In Twitter posts on Friday, Mr. Trump charged that Democrats had fabricated elements of the trade at the same time as he defended the sentiment that prompted them.

Mr. Trump mentioned he “never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country,” and denied that he had requested to take away them from the immigration proposal, including: “Made up by Dems.”

President Trump throughout a assembly within the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Thursday.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

In a joint assertion launched on Friday, two Republican senators who additionally attended the session, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, charged that Democrats have been performing dishonorably, claiming that they might not keep in mind whether or not Mr. Trump used the phrases attributed to him.

“President Trump brought everyone to the table this week and listened to both sides, but regrettably, it seems that not everyone is committed to negotiating in good faith,” the senators mentioned. “In regards to Senator Durbin’s accusation, we do not recall the president saying these comments specifically, but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest.”

Also current on the assembly have been Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the bulk chief; Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee; and Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, Republican of Florida.

Some Republicans condemned the president’s remarks, as Democrats introduced plans to introduce a decision subsequent week to formally censure him for them.

At an occasion in Wisconsin on Friday, Speaker Paul D. Ryan described Mr. Trump’s feedback as “very unfortunate” and “unhelpful.” Mr. Ryan went on to recall how his personal family immigrated to the United States from Ireland.

Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, urged the president’s incapability to chorus from incendiary statements was detracting from his agenda.

“It’s an unacceptable view of the world, and it’s an unacceptable thing to say,” Mr. Blunt instructed KMBZ, a radio station within the bistate Kansas City space. “You would expect the president to lead in determining how you filter your thoughts, rather than to continue to say things that take a lot away from what’s actually getting done.”

Two high-ranking Democrats — Representative Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Representative Jerrold B. Nadler of New York, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee — mentioned they might name on Republican leaders to deliver up a decision reprimanding the president for “racist statements.”

After President Trump used vulgar language about immigrants, TV information grappled with a query: Were his feedback racist?Published On

“We have to show the world that this president does not represent the real feelings of most of the American people, which is part of the reason why he lost the popular vote,” they mentioned in a joint assertion. “Congress must speak with one voice in condemning these offensive and anti-American remarks. There is no excuse for it.”

The bipartisan backlash to the president’s feedback intensified on Friday as Mr. Trump signed a proclamation on the White House for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, ignoring a query from a reporter about whether or not he’s a racist.

The present debate about Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant discuss unfolded one week earlier than funding for the federal government is ready to be exhausted with out motion from Congress, the place Democrats have pressed to incorporate an immigration plan to protect protections for roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants that Mr. Trump has moved to rescind. Under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program created by President Barack Obama that’s generally generally known as DACA, they’ve obtained short-term, renewable work permits. Mr. Trump introduced in September he was ending this system, setting a six-month clock earlier than the primary permits would start expiring and calling on Congress to enact laws to create a everlasting resolution within the meantime.

A federal choose in San Francisco this week issued a nationwide injunction, placing that motion on maintain and ordering the Trump administration to proceed this system pending a authorized problem.

While lawmakers had been closing in on a bipartisan deal on the matter and Mr. Durbin and Mr. Graham had been hopeful that Mr. Trump was on the point of endorsing it, the furor surrounding his remarks appeared to deepen the divisions surrounding any such plan, prompting the president to low cost the probabilities of an settlement.

Conceding solely that his language was “tough,” Mr. Trump mentioned on Twitter, “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!”

The president’s feedback on Thursday got here throughout a session during which senators have been describing a plan to finish the variety visa lottery and allocate a number of the visas as an alternative to weak populations from locations together with El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti which have had Temporary Protected Status within the United States. The measure below dialogue would additionally present authorized standing for DACA recipients and work permits for his or her mother and father, bar the youngsters from sponsoring their mother and father for citizenship, and embody $2.5 billion in border safety funding.

Mr. Trump had responded approvingly to the proposal after listening to Mr. Graham and Mr. Durbin describe it over the telephone on Thursday morning, in response to individuals accustomed to the conversations, however the pair arrived on the White House to temporary the president about it not lengthy after to seek out a number of Republicans they weren’t anticipating sitting in on the session. Attendees have been startled by the tone Mr. Trump took through the assembly, and by Friday morning, Mr. Trump was itemizing his objections to the measure on Twitter and dealing preemptively to shift blame if the dispute led to a authorities shutdown.

“USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly,” Mr. Trump mentioned of the immigration plan. “The Dems will threaten ‘shutdown,’ but what they are really doing is shutting down our military, at a time we need it most.”

Eileen Sullivan, Thomas Kaplan and Emily Baumgaertner contributed reporting.

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