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News: Politics

Graham: I said my piece to Trump directly

The Hill logo The Hill 1/12/2018 Josh Delk
Lindsey Graham wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Hill Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Friday that he said his piece directly to President Trump at a White House meeting on immigration reform the previous day where Trump reportedly disparaged several nations as "shithole countries."

Graham was present at the bipartisan meeting in the Oval Office where Trump reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador and several African nations as "shithole countries" after lawmakers suggested that immigrants from the countries be provided protections.

"Following comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday. The President and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel. I've always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals," Graham said in a statement on Friday.

Graham neither confirmed nor denied the controversial remarks attributed to Trump, but the GOP senator said he appreciated statements from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Durbin, the only Democrat at the meeting Thursday, said he heard Trump make the crude remarks and praised Graham for speaking up and rebuking the president at the time.

"My colleague [Graham] spoke up and made a direct comment on what the president said," Durbin said Friday, according to MSNBC. "For him to confront the president as he did, literally sitting next to him, took extraordinary political courage and I respect him for it."

"I appreciate Senator Durbin's statements and have enjoyed working with him and many others on this important issue," Graham said in his statement.

"Diversity has always been our strength, not our weakness. In reforming immigration we cannot lose these American ideals."

Graham, who has taken a more moderate stance on immigration than Trump, previously called another bipartisan immigration meeting this week with Trump the "most fascinating meeting" of his political career.

Two of Graham's Republican colleagues, Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.), issued a statement Friday saying they did not recall Trump explicitly making the "shithole" comments as reported.


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