A Republican senator said President Donald Trump did not use the word “s—hole” in reference to immigrants from Haiti and Africa in a meeting at the White House last week.
Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, a close ally of the president, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday that reports have misrepresented the president’s comments during a meeting on immigration on Thursday.
“I’m telling you he did not use that word, George,” said Perdue, who was among the senators at the meeting with Trump. “And I’m telling you it’s a gross misrepresentation.”
Stephanopoulos pressed Perdue, saying that multiple sources have confirmed the president’s language, of whom the most outspoken has been Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.
“Multiple sources? There were six of us in the room,” Perdue responded to Stephanopoulos. “I haven’t heard any of those six sources other than Senator Durbin talk about what was said.”
In a statement Friday, Sens. Purdue and Tom Cotton had said, “In regards to Senator Durbin’s accusation, we do not recall the President saying these comments specifically…”
On “This Week” on Sunday, Perdue also seemed to question Sen. Durbin’s intentions, saying “it is not the first time” that the Illinois senator has accused someone of inflammatory language.
“In 2013, Senator Durbin also made the same accusation against a Republican leader in a meeting with President Obama, and said that … he chewed out the president, it was so disrespectful to President Obama, we couldn’t even have the meeting,” Perdue said.
“That’s what [Durbin] said in 2013. Later that day, the president’s own press secretary came out and said, and I quote, ‘It did not happen,'” Purdue added. “This is about a gross misrepresentation. It’s not the first time.”
Perdue seems to be referring to a Facebook post Durbin made in response to a 2013 meeting between GOP leaders and then-President Obama. According to Politico, Durbin wrote in the post, “In a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you.’”
Durbin was not present at the 2013 meeting in question and did not make clear in his post the context of the comment he reported, how the president responded, or which leader allegedly made the remark.
Both the White House and the House speaker’s office denied Durbin’s account at the time, with then-White House press secretary Jay Carney saying at a briefing, “I looked into this and spoke with somebody who was in that meeting and it did not happen.”
But according to The Associated Press, Carney later clarified that White House officials had provided an inaccurate summary of the meeting to Senate Democrats, including Durbin, who removed his Facebook post after the clarification.
“There was a miscommunication when the White House read out that meeting to Senate Democrats, and we regret the misunderstanding,” Carney said at the time, adding that the quote was not accurate.
On Sunday morning, Durbin’s communications director tweeted a response to Perdue’s apparent questioning of the credibility of the Illinois senator’s account of what Trump said at Thursday’s Oval Office meeting.
“Credibility is something that’s built … over time,” Durbin spokesperson Ben Marter tweeted. “Senator Durbin has it. Senator Perdue does not. Ask anyone who’s dealt with both.”
Perdue maintained on “This Week” that the focus on what Trump allegedly said in the White House meeting was being used to prevent any deals on immigration.
“These people have been trying for 35 years to solve this immigration problem without success, for one reason, and that is I don’t believe they’re serious about trying to solve that right now,” Perdue said.