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Trump 's***hole' comments: Senator warns of 'bigotry allied with power' as Homeland Security Secretary says she can't remember what President said

Kirstjen Nielsen says she was 'struck by general profanity in the room' but did not give details

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 17 January 2018 15:07 GMT
Sen. Cory Booker to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen: 'Your silence and amnesia is complicity'

Donald Trump‘s Secretary of Homeland Security has been accused of wilful “amnesia” over the President’s alleged use of the term “s***hole countries” during an immigration meeting.

Kirstjen Nielsen told senators she did not recall the specific language used by Mr Trump in last week’s bipartisan meeting, where the billionaire was accused of having referred to Haiti, El Salvador and various African countries in a derogatory way.

“What I was struck with frankly, as I’m sure you were as well, was just the general profanity used in the room by almost everyone”, she said.

Democratic senator Cory Booker responded angrily and said: “When ignorance and bigotry is allied with power it is a dangerous force in our country.

“Your silence and your amnesia is complicity.”

It was “unacceptable” that Ms Nielsen could not remember Mr Trump’s exact words, he said on Tuesday during a nearly-two-minute harangue.

The fallout has been widespread since Mr Trump’s alleged comments were reported last week by The Washington Post.

African Union countries demanded an apology, with Ghana, Senegal, Botswana, South Africa and Nigeria hauling in US diplomats to give an explanation.

Haiti did the same and Haitians living in the US protested and called for Mr Trump to apologise.

Mr Trump has denied using the word “s***hole” but admitted being “tough” during the meeting. The White House, however, has not substantively disputed accounts of the episode.

Administration officials and other politicians who were present spent the weekend debating the precise vulgarity used, and tried to cast last Thursday’s summit as a salty affair, with expletives flying in all directions.

“The President hasn’t said he didn’t use strong language, and this is an important issue,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “He’s passionate about it, he’s not going to apologise for trying to fix our immigration system.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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