WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has said he responded directly to President Donald Trump's comments at a meeting on immigration but stopped short of confirming that the president referred to certain nations as 'sh*thole countries.'
In a statement on Friday, Graham noted he attended a White House meeting with Trump along with Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to discuss their bipartisan proposal on border security and immigration.
'Following comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday,' Graham said. 'The President and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel.'
'The American ideal is embraced by people all over the globe. It was best said a long time ago, E Pluribus Unum - Out of Many, One,' he added. 'Diversity has always been our strength, not our weakness. In reforming immigration we cannot lose these American Ideals.'
The statement from Graham comes on the heels of reports that Trump asked lawmakers at the meeting why the U.S. was allowing immigrants from 'sh*thole countries'
The president was apparently referring to impoverished African, Central American, and Caribbean countries like Eritrea, Haiti, and El Salvador.
Trump has denied the reports, although Durbin told reporters the president 'repeatedly' used derogatory language when referring to the immigrants. Durbin claimed 'sh*tholes' was the exact word used by Trump.
Durbin noted that Graham 'spoke up' when Trump made the remark and praised his colleague's 'political courage' for confronting the president.
Meanwhile, Republican Senators David Perdue, R-Ga., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., have said they 'do not recall' the president making those comments specifically.
'But what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest,' Perdue and Cotton said in a statement.
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