“A heartbreaking moment”: A senator describes Trump’s full comments in “shithole” meeting

"America First"
"America First"

Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, was in the room when Donald Trump described African nations as “shithole” countries. That wasn’t the only thing Trump said that was offensive, Durbin told reporters today (Jan. 12).

The president, speaking at the White House before 23 members of Congress, his chief of staff John Kelly, Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and advisors Stephen Miller and Marc Short, “repeatedly” called African countries “shitholes,” Durbin said. Trump also questioned why the US lets Haitians into the country, and mocked Durbin’s assertion that African-Americans might be offended by the term “chain migration,” the senator said.

For his part, Trump—who has denied using the word “shithole”—is said to be thrilled with the controversy he’s created, CNN reports, citing two unnamed sources, because it shows how far he can push things without being removed from office.

Durbin said Trump and his supporters in the room also “scoffed” when he said that ending chain migration would break up families. Durbin’s related comments are transcribed below the video link.




As Senator Graham made his presentation, the president interrupted him several times with questions and in the course of his comments said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist. I use those words advisedly. I understand how powerful they are.

But I cannot believe in the history of the White House in that Oval Office any president has ever spoken the words I personally heard our president speak yesterday.

You’ve seen the comments in the press, I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate. To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning denying that he used those words. It is not true. He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.

When a question was raised about Haitians, for example. We have a group that was granted temporary protected status in the United States because they were the victims of crises and disasters and political upheaval. The largest group is El Salvadoran and the second is Honduran and the third is Haitian.

And when I mentioned that fact to him, he said “Haitians, do we need more Haitians?” And then he went on and he started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure, that’s when he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from shitholes. The exact word used by the president, not more, not just once, but repeatedly.

That was the nature of this conversation. When it came to the issue of quote chain migration, I said to the president “Do you realize how painful that term is to so many people? African-Americans believe that they migrated to America in chains and when you speak about chain migration that hurts them personally.”

He said “Oh, that’s a good line.”

And then when I talked about the impact that this has on family unification in a nation that values families with the flag as the most important symbols of our future, they scoffed at this notion.

It was a heartbreaking moment.

Read next: “Where birds don’t lay eggs”: How media in Asia translated “shithole countries”

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