The head of the Department of Homeland Security today said she didn't hear President Donald Trump call Haiti and African nations "s***hole countries," as has been alleged by a Democratic lawmaker, but dodged on whether Trump used similar vulgar language.
"The conversation was very impassioned," Kirstjen Nielsen said under oath in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, after Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, asked directly if Trump used that language or similar "vulgar" language. "I don't dispute that the president was using tough language," she said.
Nielsen, who attended the meeting in question, added that some lawmakers in the meeting were also using "tough language."
Later in her testimony, Nielsen was questioned by Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat who was also in the meeting and who said afterward that Trump had said the "s***hole" remark. Durbin asked what Nielsen remembered Trump saying, at which point Nielsen said she did not "specifically remember a categorization" for the countries or a "specific word" about it. Nielsen said Trump was speaking generally about the need for a "merit-based" immigration system, rather than country-based.
The Washington Post first reported Friday that the president used the vulgar language during a heated discussion with several lawmakers.
“Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?” Trump said, according to the Post. The paper reported Trump suggested the U.S. needed more immigrants from places like Norway.
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