The Latest: Homeland secretary unclear on Trump vulgarity

January 17, 2018 GMT
President Donald Trump meets with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump meets with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

9:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s Homeland Security secretary is the latest GOP official to offer an inconclusive version of a meeting in which Trump is said to have used vulgar remarks that have been criticized as racist.

Kirstjen Nielsen testified at a congressional hearing that she “did not hear” Trump use a certain vulgarity to describe African countries. She didn’t “dispute the president was using tough language.”

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker told Nielsen, “Your silence and your amnesia is complicity.”

Administration officials and lawmakers spent the holiday weekend debating the precise presidential vulgarity used, and moved to cast last Thursday’s White House meeting as a salty affair, with expletives flying in all directions.

The White House says Trump has no intention of apologizing.



1:50 p.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham is blaming President Donald Trump’s staff for the president’s about-face on immigration that appeared to scuttle a compromise deal to protect from deportation young people brought to the U.S. as children and living here illegally.

In a hearing Tuesday, Graham said Trump had reversed course, expressing openness on an immigration deal early last Thursday, only to reject it hours later.

Graham says, “I think somebody on his staff gave him really bad advice between 10 o’clock to 12 o’clock on Thursday.”

The South Carolina Republican says White House chief of staff John Kelly is “a fine man, but he’s part of the staff.”

Trump met Thursday with Graham and other key lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin. Durbin says Trump used a vulgarity disparaging African countries.


1:10 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is harshly criticizing the Homeland Security secretary for saying she can’t recall President Donald Trump using a certain vulgarity to describe African countries.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that she couldn’t remember the president using the word ascribed to him.

Booker says the words attributed to Trump cast a shadow over millions of Americans from those countries. He says the president’s language can fester and give license to bigotry and hate in the country.

He tells Nielsen: “Your silence and your amnesia is complicit.”

Nielsen says the department is going after the threat of white supremacy.

She says: “I would just like to say I do clearly abhor violence in all of its forms.”



12:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he wants immigrants to come to the U.S. from “everywhere,” despite having said behind closed doors that he’d prefer more immigrants from countries like Norway and not Africa.

Trump was responding to questions as he met with Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev (nur-sul-TAHN’ nah-sar-BAH’-yev) at the White House on Tuesday.

Trump said: “We want ’em to come in from everywhere, everywhere.”

Trump was meeting with lawmakers about a potential deal on immigration last week when he questioned why the U.S. should admit more people from Africa and Haiti. Trump also expressed a preference for immigrants from countries like Norway, which is overwhelmingly white.

That’s according to Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who attended, and others who were briefed on the conversation but were not authorized to describe it publicly.


11:30 a.m.

The secretary of the Homeland Security Department is testifying under oath that she “did not hear” President Donald Trump use a certain vulgarity to describe African countries. But she says she doesn’t “dispute the president was using tough language.”

Trump has been accused of using the word “shithole” to describe African countries during an Oval Office meeting Thursday with a bipartisan group of six senators, according to people briefed on the conversation.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked her specifically if she heard the vulgarity used or a “substantially similar word” to describe certain countries.

Nielsen says the conversation was impassioned and the president was using tough language. She says “others in the room were also using tough language.”


This item has been corrected to show that Nielsen is secretary of DHS, not HHS.


10:40 a.m.

Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin is standing by his description of last week’s White House immigration meeting at which he and others have said President Donald Trump described African nations with a profanity.

Asked Tuesday about Trump and some Republicans challenging his honesty, Durbin tells reporters, “Politics ain’t beanbag. I understand that. But I’ll tell you this: I stand by every word I said about what was said and what happened.”

The Illinois Democrat says he and a handful of other senators who crafted a bipartisan immigration deal are working to win over additional supporters.

Trump and some Republicans have said the senators’ agreement is insufficient.

Durbin says he wants Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to let the Senate debate the immigration measure this week as lawmakers try figuring out by Friday how to avoid a government shutdown.


9:15 a.m.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says President Donald Trump is “not going to apologize for trying to fix our immigration system,” as the fall-out continues from Trump’s reported use of a vulgarity to describe some African countries.

Sanders tells reporters that Trump “hasn’t said he didn’t use strong language” in the meeting with bipartisan in the heated immigration debate last week. He was said to have used “shithole” to describe some nations in Africa.

Responding to Democrats’ assertions that Trump’s comments were “racist,” Sanders calls the claim “outrageous,” citing their previous embrace of Trump. She said: “Why did NBC give him a show for a decade on TV. Why did Chuck Schumer and all of his colleagues come and beg Donald Trump for money?”


12:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump tweets that Sen. Dick Durbin misrepresented what he had said about African nations and Haiti and, in the process, undermined the trust needed to make a deal.

Several people who were at the meeting last week or familiar with the discussions, said Trump disparaged those countries in vulgar, racially tinged terms.

Without explicitly denying using the vulgarity, Trump on Monday lashed out at the Democratic senator, who said Trump uttered it on several occasions.

Durbin said Monday the White House should release whatever recording it might have of the meeting.