No one “expressed offense” during a recent Oval Office meeting on immigration where President Donald Trump allegedly used the term “shithole countries” to describe Africa, said Senator Tom Cotton, a shift from comments he made last week.
“I was not offended,” Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Nobody in the meeting expressed their offense.”
Last week, Cotton said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he didn’t hear Trump use the obscenity. On Sunday, he said on NBC that he “never denied there wasn’t strong language used” at the Jan. 11 meeting on immigration priorities “by lots of people.”
The ill will that emerged from the meeting, in which Trump said a bipartisan immigration proposal offered by Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham allowed in too many people from countries whose residents he considers undesirable, shadowed the actions that led to the current federal government shutdown.
On CBS last week, Cotton said he “didn’t hear” the comments ascribed to Trump by Durbin, and he added that the No. 2 Democrat “has a history of misrepresenting what happens in White House meetings, though, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.”
Durbin said on NBC Sunday that he hadn’t leaked the comment made by Trump but had further amplified the remarks “because the president denied it happened.” Trump said in a Jan. 15 tweet that Durbin “totally misrepresented” what was said at the meeting and “blew DACA,” referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, has said that he had objected to Trump’s comments while the contentious meeting was in progress.
“Following comments by the President, I said my piece to him directly yesterday,” Graham said in a statement released on Jan. 12. “The President and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel.”
According to Cotton, Graham “made a case about immigration policy. He didn’t make a case about what the president was saying.”