Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Sunday she doesn’t recall President Donald Trump’s reported comments about immigration from “shithole” countries during a White House meeting last week.
“I don’t recall him saying that exact phrase,” Nielsen, who attended Thursday’s meeting at the White House, said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
Nielsen also predicted Trump, who campaigned on hard-line immigration policies, including building a border wall, will “continue to use, strong language when it comes to this issue, because he feels very passionate about it.”
Media reports state Trump questioned why the United States admits people from “shithole countries” in the meeting with lawmakers from both parties. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) corroborated the remarks, while Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.), both allies of Trump, said Friday they didn’t recall those remarks. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggested he the president at the meeting for his remarks, though he was not specific.
Fox moderator Chris Wallace pushed back against the Homeland Security chief on how she wouldn’t be certain of whether Trump made such an incendiary comment.
“I can understand you either saying they were said or they were not said,” Wallace pressed Nielsen. “It is pretty shocking language, and to say, ‘I don’t recall,’ seems implausible.”
“I understand the question,” Nielsen said. “It was an impassioned conversation. I don’t recall that specific phrase being used. That’s all I can say about that.”