I am not a racist, says Donald Trump

Durbin, who confirmed Trump's reported remarks last week, said he didn't record the meeting because visitors to the Oval Office are required to turn over their phones, but called on the administration to release any tapes of the meeting if they exist.

Mr Trump also said in the meeting that he would prefer immigrants from countries like Norway instead.

The president also questioned the need to admit more Haitians to the USA, according to people who were briefed on the conversation but were not authorised to describe the meeting publicly.

Trump took particular issue with the idea that people who'd fled to the US after disasters hit their homes in places such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Haiti would be allowed to stay as part of the deal, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly describe the discussion. "I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed", Trump told reporters as he arrived at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida for dinner with Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. "I'm the least racist person you will ever interview".

He blamed Democrats for failing to reach a deal on DACA, the Obama-era policy that offers protection for children who were brought to the USA illegally. "I know what was said and I know what I said".

"We are ready, willing and able to make a deal but they don't want to", he said in a tweet Monday, quoting his own comments to reporters the night before.

Republican Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who also attended, initially said they did not hear Trump utter the word in question, then revised their account to deny he said it at all.

Asked about the initial Washington Post report on Trump's "shithole" remark, the White House issued a statement that did not deny Trump made the comment.

The senator from Arizona said Trump's remarks came in reaction to an element of the deal that would reallocate the visas given out in a lottery to immigrants who are now in a protected status, like Haitians and the Dreamers.


That message was a distinct counterpoint to words attributed to Trump by Durbin and others at a meeting last week, when the question of where immigrants come from seemed at the forefront of Trump's concerns.

The most recent CNN polling, from December, shows that only 3% of black Americans said they approved of how Trump is handling his job almost a year into his White House tenure.

Graham said the fiasco about whether or not Trump used the derogatory term in Thursday's meeting, and the greater issue of coming to an agreement on an immigration bill, "has turned into a 's-show'".

However, Republicans and Democrats have both said they either heard Trump say it, or heard directly from colleagues who did.

"Deals cant get made when there is no trust!"

"In - I don't - I don't specifically remember a category - categorization of countries in Africa", she said, explaining that "there were a lot of cross conversations". Never said "take them out".

Trump announced in September he was scrapping the DACA program but delayed enforcement to give Congress six months-until March-to craft a lasting solution.

Trump denied being racist, too. "Their attitude and what they want to do, I think it's terrific. Thank you, and it will get even (much) better!" he wrote. "But what we have to do is not let that define this moment", said Republican Senator Cory Gardner on CBS's "Face the Nation" program.

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