WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are struggling to get their tales straight as President Donald Trump’s Homeland Security secretary turned the most recent GOP official to supply an inconclusive model of a gathering wherein Trump is alleged to have used vulgar remarks which were criticized as racist.
Democrats accused Republicans of selective amnesia as Cabinet member Kirstjen Nielsen testified Tuesday beneath oath that she “didn’t hear” Trump use a sure vulgarity to explain African international locations. “It was a gathering of 12 individuals. There was cross-talk,” she defined at a congressional listening to, however she did not “dispute the president was utilizing robust language.”
Under persistent questioning, Nielsen stated she did not recall the particular language utilized by Trump.
“What I used to be struck with frankly, as I am positive you have been as effectively, was simply the overall profanity used within the room by virtually everybody.”
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., angrily criticized Nielsen’s feedback, telling her throughout a Senate Judiciary Committee listening to: “Your silence and your amnesia is complicity.”
Nielsen’s feedback got here 5 days after the president ignited what Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., termed an “s-storm” with his Oval Office remarks.
The White House has not substantively disputed accounts of the episode, wherein Trump is alleged to have used the time period “shithole” to explain African international locations of origin for potential immigrants to the U.S. The revelations, semi-denials and persevering with feedback have forged a pall over the White House’s legislative agenda, introduced the nation nearer to the brink of a authorities shutdown and sparked worldwide outrage.
And with the midterm elections approaching, there are contemporary fears amongst Republicans who have been already anxious over the political local weather going into November — and over Trump’s unpredictable actions.
Administration officers and lawmakers spent the vacation weekend debating the exact presidential vulgarity used, and moved to forged final Thursday’s White House assembly as a salty affair, with expletives flying in all instructions.
The White House stated Trump had no intention of apologizing.
“The president hasn’t stated he did not use robust language, and this is a vital concern,” press secretary Sarah Sanders stated, “He’s obsessed with it, he isn’t going to apologize for making an attempt to repair our immigration system.”
There is inner debate within the West Wing over whether or not Trump stated “shithole” or “shithouse.” One one who attended the assembly advised aides they heard the latter expletive, whereas others recalled the president saying the extra broadly reported “shithole,” in keeping with an individual briefed on the assembly however not approved to talk publicly about personal conversations.
Trump has not clarified to aides what he stated, however advised reporters Sunday night time in Florida that feedback attributed to him “weren’t made.”
A confidant of Trump advised The Associated Press that the president spent Thursday night calling associates and outdoors advisers to evaluate their response to his remarks. Trump wasn’t apologetic and denied he was racist, stated the confidant, who wasn’t approved to reveal a non-public dialog and spoke on situation of anonymity.
White House officers tried to supply readability on the two-hour interval Thursday morning that noticed Trump transfer from requesting a briefing on a possible immigration breakthrough to graphically rejecting the settlement reached by Graham and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Chief of employees John Kelly phoned Trump from Capitol Hill to advise him towards accepting the proposal, and the president summoned conservative Republican negotiators to assist construct a united entrance towards the plan, which might have offered some border safety funding in addition to safety from deportation for immigrants delivered to the nation as kids and now right here illegally.
A senior White House official stated Trump doesn’t consider he has an ally on this concern in Graham, a Republican who has lengthy tried to companion with Democrats on immigration laws.
In a listening to Tuesday, Graham stated Trump expressed openness to an immigration deal, solely to reject it hours later.
“I feel any individual on his employees gave him actually dangerous recommendation between 10 o’clock to 12 o’clock on Thursday,” Graham stated.
Asked about Kelly, the South Carolina Republican stated the chief of employees is “a high quality man, however he is a part of the employees.”
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., one of many lawmakers summoned to the Oval Office by the president to counter the Durbin-Graham proposal, blasted Durbin’s account of the assembly in an interview.
“I am not going to get into all the main points of a non-public assembly. I am going to simply say, what Senator Durbin has portrayed is a misportrayal,” Cotton advised Little Rock radio station KARN on Tuesday.
“The proposal introduced by Senator Durbin and Senator Graham would go within the reverse of what we’d like, which is a skill-based system that treats individuals for who they’re, not the place they’re from,” Cotton stated. “It’s truthful to say the president reacted strongly to that.”
As the firestorm over Trump’s remark started late final week, the White House and Trump’s National Security Council offered no steerage to the State Department about what to say to overseas international locations who have been incensed, stated a U.S. official acquainted with the conversations between the White House and different federal companies.
Left to its personal units, the State Department got here up with its personal speaking factors for use by U.S. missions in Africa working to stem the injury, stated a U.S. official, who wasn’t approved to reveal inner deliberations and demanded anonymity.
The key message, the official stated: Emphasize that the United States has a “deep respect” for individuals from Africa and that the U.S. relationship with any nation is deeper than anybody remark. Avoid confirming or denying what the president might need stated, referring to it as a substitute as an “alleged remark.”
Lemire reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Marcy Gordon, and Josh Lederman contributed from Washington.