The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
UPDATE: Sen. Dick Durbin, who was in the room, has now confirmed on the record that Trump made the “hate-filled, vile, and racist” remarks attributed to him in various press accounts. “He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly,” Durbin said.
UPDATE 2: There seems to be little doubt at this point that Trump said what he said, but Cotton goes with the hedging “do not recall” approach in a new statement:
President Trump brought everyone to the table this week and listened to both sides. But regrettably, it seems that not everyone is committed to negotiating in good faith. In regards to Senator Durbin’s accusation, we do not recall the President saying these 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. We, along with the President, are committed to solving an issue many in Congress have failed to deliver on for decades.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter to weakly claim this morning that he did not use the language attributed to him at a meeting yesterday on immigration. Multiple news outlets reported that according to people who were at the meeting, Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and certain nations in Africa as “shithole countries,” asking “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” He reportedly said that we should instead recruit more Norwegians.
In a written statement yesterday, the White House deputy press secretary did not deny the account (White House staffers were present at the meeting so they presumably would have denied it if it wasn’t true). Neither did any of the lawmakers present, which includes Sen. Tom Cotton. If Trump never said what he is reported to have said, it strains credulity to think that the multiple GOP lawmakers who were at the meeting trying to work out a deal would stay silent if the alleged comments were simply made up. He said it.
But now, this morning, Trump wants to tell us it just ain’t so, or at least offer the meek statement that “this was not the language used.” Trump’s problem, of course, is that he’s the boy who lied wolf. He’s a bullshitter. He lies constantly, often about easily verifiable facts. It’s just one of the quirks of his personality. In the way that young people often pepper their language with “like,” Trump peppers his conversation with lies. Trump, in a later tweet, lamented this dynamic — “unfortunately, no trust!” Unfortunately, no. The record is overwhelming and clear: Trump’s statements are evidence not of what might or might not be true, but simply of the personality reality he wishes to assert.
I asked Cotton’s spokesperson whether he he would confirm or deny Trump’s comments and whether he agreed with them or had any comment. I have not heard back and don’t expect to — the only time Cotton’s office has ever responded to me was when I asked his favorite song (“Battle Hymn of the Republic”). Note also that Cotton retweeted Trump’s disparagements of the deal this morning but not his denial of the comments.
Cotton did have plenty to say about the substance of the meeting, however, slamming the proposal for a bipartisan deal on DACA with the following statement:
There has been no deal reached yet on the future of DACA in the Senate. Some of our colleagues have floated a potential plan that, simply put, isn’t serious. It is disingenuous to discuss providing status to, potentially, millions of individuals without taking credible steps to truly protect our borders and secure the interior.
It simply isn’t credible to consider any ‘deals’ that don’t make it easier to apprehend, detain and deport dangerous criminal aliens. We owe the American people better. Any deal that does not address the four pillars we have reiterated- ending chain migration, eliminating the outdated visa lottery, increasing border security, and solving the DACA situation – is no deal at all.
Further, it’s important to establish that there is no deadline on January 19. Anyone who says otherwise creates an artificial deadline that only impedes our ability to create a quality legislative product that serves the interest of the American people and DACA recipients. If our colleagues insist on shutting down the federal government, then they will have to explain to our men and women in uniform, veterans and pensioners why they won’t be receiving their benefits.
Cotton also told reporters that the proposed deal, developed by a group of six senators led by Republicans Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake, was “a joke of a proposal.”
Trump also slammed the proposed deal this morning, calling it a “big step backwards,” so it seems like we’re a long way from any sort of solution on DACA.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created by the Obama administration, gives certain legal protections to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children. If the legal wrangling doesn’t hold things up, the Trump administration has the DACA program slated to end on March 5, when around 800,000 young immigrants would lose eligibility for work permits and could face deportation if Congress doesn’t intervene — including at least 5,000 DACA recipients (often called “Dreamers”) in Arkansas.