Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump on Friday denied describing certain nations as "shithole countries" during a meeting in which he rejected a bipartisan deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
He also denied demanding that Haitians be removed from negotiations about protected status for people from certain countries.
"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!" Trump tweeted.
White House spokesperson Raj Shah did not deny the "shithole" remark on Thursday evening, but instead said in a statement that Trump "is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation."
Trump later tweeted Friday morning that he "Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said 'take them out.' Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!"
Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!
A source familiar with the meeting told CNN's Jake Tapper the President did not refer to Haiti as a "shithole" country but Trump did ask why the US needs more Haitians and pushed to "take them out" of the deal. In a separate part of the conversation about the diversity visa lottery, the source said, Trump referred to people coming from Africa as coming from "shithole countries."
Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who was briefed by Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and a fellow GOP Senator who attended the meeting, confirmed that version of events to CNN.
Durbin, a key negotiator in DACA talks, recounted the meeting on MSNBC Friday, saying, "He said, 'Haitians. Do we need more Haitians?' Then he went on and started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure. That's when he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from 'shitholes.' The exact word used by the President. Not just once but repeatedly. That was the nature of this conversation."
Separately, Durbin told reporters he had not seen a single news report about the President's words that was false.
"I've not read one of them that's inaccurate," Durbin said. "He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly."
DACA protects hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.
"Why do we want all these people from 'shithole countries' coming here?" Trump told senators in the Oval Office, according to a source briefed on the meeting, the comments from which were first reported by The Washington Post.
Tweets threaten deal
Trump's denial came among a series of other tweets in which he defended his immigration stance.
"The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards. Wall was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime.....," Trump tweeted.
The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards. Wall was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime.....
He continued: "....countries which are doing badly. I want a merit based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level. I want safety and security for our people. I want to stop the massive inflow of drugs. I want to fund our military, not do a Dem defund....
....countries which are doing badly. I want a merit based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level. I want safety and security for our people. I want to stop the massive inflow of drugs. I want to fund our military, not do a Dem defund....
"....Because of the Democrats not being interested in life and safety, DACA has now taken a big step backwards. The Dems will threaten 'shutdown,' but what they are really doing is shutting down our military, at a time we need it most. Get smart, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"
....Because of the Democrats not being interested in life and safety, DACA has now taken a big step backwards. The Dems will threaten “shutdown,” but what they are really doing is shutting down our military, at a time we need it most. Get smart, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
He also said: "Sadly, Democrats want to stop paying our troops and government workers in order to give a sweetheart deal, not a fair deal, for DACA. Take care of our Military, and our Country, FIRST!"
The tweets suggest that Trump is interested in a system that would only accept individuals from certain countries and backgrounds in exchange for a DACA deal -- as well as a much more substantial border investment than one year of funding and technology upgrades the lawmakers had presented.
Democrats have made clear they would not consider some of the suggestions and the demands risk exacerbating already tense talks as both sides are entrenched in negotiating position.
While some Republicans hope to gain leverage by dragging out negotiations and increase the risk that DACA recipients could lose status and even be deported, advocates have made clear to Democrats they should feel empowered to reject a deal that benefits DACA immigrants at the expense of scores of others and their families.
Trump's agreement has always been essential to any immigration deal. Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, reiterated on Thursday after the White House meeting that a deal would only move for a vote with a clear message from the President that he would sign it.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has declared 21 days mourning for its members allegedly killed during the military invasion of the home of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu at Afara Ukwu, Umuahia, Abia State.
The Biafra agitation group also says it has discovered more corpses of her slain members in a bush within the precincts of the home of its leader, SunNewsOnline reports. The group also informed that it is burying the slain members, numbering more than over 28 who were killed during the invasion, in piecemeal with 11 of such bodies already interred.
A senior member of the group, Mark Eze Ofuonye, who disclosed how some of their members were shot dead by the invading soldiers, and their corpses dumped in a bush near the home of the IPOB leader, said:
“Some of our members, numbering over 28, were murdered in cold blood by the military during the invasion of our leader’s home at Afara Ukwu. The soldiers were doing a sort of mop up operation; whenever they killed any of our members, they carried away the corpse to conceal their horrendous act but it was not possible.
“So, they filled up their trucks with our members’ corpses. The corpses we retrieved and which we are burying at present are those the soldiers could not carry. They just came out with the intention of killing any human being or living thing that was found in the compound of our leader. The people they met were not armed still they shot them, even people just standing nearby and those passing through the area were caught in the attack.”
“The corpses we are burying now (referring to the day of the interview) were found inside the bush. They were shot by soldiers and they ran into the bush with bullet wounds thinking that they could receive help there but no help came their way and they died inside the bush. Some of the dead bodies were discovered last week inside the bush at the back of Nnamdi Kanu’s house. The 28 were those ones that were killed within the axis of the house of our leader. But the total number killed within this range is 305 persons.”
The IPOB chieftain who said there was no need for the operation by the Nigerian army as members of the group did not carry arms neither were they violent, added that the leadership of the group declared the 21-day mourning for their slain members.
Disclosing that those killed were from the Eastern heartland, Ofuonye said that in addition to burying the dead, the group is also treating the injured and taking care of the imprisoned ones.
Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has asked former Minister of Environment now UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, to resign her appointment and be made to face criminal charges following her indictment in a $300m timber scandal.
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a Washington-based environmental campaigning organization, recently released a report accusing Mohammed of issuing export certificates to some Chinese importers to illegally clear more than $300 million worth of rosewood logs (timbers) out of Nigeria.
The agency alleged that the former Minister on January 16th, shortly before she left office, 'hurriedly' signed some export certificates. Read here.
FFK reacted to the news via his twitter handle. See his tweet below...
PM Mariano Rajoy (L) joined the leader of his PP party in Catalonia for campaigning on Sunday
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said regional elections next month in Catalonia will help end "separatist havoc" in the north-eastern region.
He addressed a campaign event on his first visit there since imposing direct rule on the region a fortnight ago.
Defending his decision in Barcelona, he said he had "exhausted all roads" after the Catalan government's unilateral declaration of independence last month.
Several key Catalan leaders are currently being detained over the move.
Some 750,000 people protested in Barcelona on Saturday against the arrests, local police estimated.
The crisis was sparked by a disputed referendum held in Catalonia in October, which had been declared illegal by the Spanish courts.
Catalan officials said the independence campaign won 92% of the vote, from a turnout of 43%. Many of those who were against independence did not cast votes, refusing to recognise the legitimacy of the referendum.
The Catalan government subsequently declared independence. In response, the Spanish government dissolved the region's parliament, imposed direct rule and called a snap regional election on 21 December.
Speaking at a campaign event in Barcelona for his Popular Party (PP) on Sunday, Mr Rajoy called on the participation of the "silent majority" to "convert their voice into a vote".
"We must reclaim Catalonia from the havoc of separatism," he added, saying: "With democracy, we want to reclaim Catalonia for everyone."
He told PP supporters that the right result would boost Spain's economic growth next year to above 3%.
He called on companies not to leave the region, after hundreds of firms moved their headquarters away amid uncertainty over the region - which accounts for a fifth of Spain's economy. He also urged people in Spain to continue buying Catalan products.
Rajoy's message to the faithful
By James Reynolds in Barcelona
For a short while, the man who ultimately runs Catalonia was in Catalonia. But Mariano Rajoy's advisors made sure he would not run into vocal pro-independence opponents.
Instead, he spoke to the party faithful. Mr Rajoy's main campaign event was held inside a hotel ballroom, in front of mostly older supporters.
Spain's prime minister came here in order to win the regional Catalan election he's called for 21 December. His People's Party doesn't command widespread support in this region.
But the pro-Spain movement as a whole makes up about half the population of Catalonia. An election victory for this sector would make it much harder for pro-independence forces to make another attempt to break away from Spain.
After speaking for 25 minutes, Mr Rajoy posed for pictures and made his way out of the hotel amid a crush of supporters.
"Will you meet your opponents?" I asked him. "Yes," he said. But he didn't say where or when.