President Donald Trump denied he is a racist Sunday, three days after he reportedly referred to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa as coming from "s---hole" countries."
"I am the least racist person you will ever interview," Trump responded to a reporter's question at his Mar-a-Lago Florida resort.
According to some in the room during a White House meeting on immigration, Trump asked why the U.S. is letting in immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa and said he wanted more from countries such as Norway. He also apparently said he wants to exclude Haiti from an immigration reform deal.
While the White House never denied Trump used an obscenity to talk about immigrants of color, the president deny it.
"Never said anything derogatory about Haiti," he later tweeted. "Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately no trust."
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who was at the Oval Office meeting, claimed the president made the derogatory term.
Trump's denial was supported in separate appearances on Sunday news programs by Republican senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.
"I didn't hear it, and I was sitting no further away from Donald Trump than Dick Durbin was," Cotton said on CBS's Face the Nation.
Perdue was on ABC television and flatly denied Trump said it.
Trump also told reporters in Florida late Sunday he is still going to try to make a deal on DACA, the program that protects young immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children from deportation.
The president tweeted earlier Sunday that DACA is "probably dead"
"Honestly, I don't think Democrats want to make a deal," he told reporters.
DACA is at the center of the debate between the White House and Congress on a bill to fund the government and avoid a shutdown at the end of this week.
Trump is tying an extension of DACA to funding for a wall along the U.S. - Mexican border.
Many Democrats want extending DACA to be a separate issue from building a wall -- something they oppose anyway.
The president's reportedly harsh comments about Africa and Haiti angered Democrats and were also condemned by a number of Republicans -- throwing some doubt on Congress' willingness to make an immigration deal with the White House at this time.
Trump signed an executive order ending DACA, but gave Congress until March 5 to come up with a solution for the 800,000 young immigrants affected by the program.
Many came to the U.S. as babies and toddlers illegally with their families, but this is the only country they know. They work, go to school, pay taxes, and have served in the U.S. military.
Source: Voice of America