Trump is belatedly trying to pretend his "sh*thole" comment is fake news. But Sen. Dick Durbin was there and heard him say it.
Donald Trump is starting to realize what a political disaster he has created with his racist remarks about blocking immigration from shitholes like Haiti and Africa.
His newest response, true to form, is to deny he said it at all, claiming it was not the language used.
But it is too late for him to pretend he did not say it. The initial White House response to the controversy on Thursday did not deny that he said it, and in fact went so far as to suggest base would appreciate it.
Worse, there were lawmakers in the room who heard him say it and can confirm that it really happened including Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, who promptly confirmed everything to reporters on Friday morning:
DURBIN: In the course of his comments, he said things which were hate-filled, vile, and racist. I use those words advisedly. I understand how powerful they are. But I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I heard our president speak yesterday. You've seen the comments in the press. I've not read one of them that's inaccurate. To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words. It is not true. He said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly. When the question was raised about Haitians, for example, we have a group that has temporary protected status in the United States because they were the victims of crises and disasters and political upheaval. The largest group's El Salvadoran, the second Honduran, and the third is Haitian. And when I mentioned that fact to him, he said, "Haitians? Do we need more Haitians?" And then he went on and started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan nature. 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.
Durbins account is incredibly damning. Trump made a flagrantly racist statement and was caught dead to rights on it.
More broadly, it is pointless to fight over the exact language Trump used, because these comments were not out of the blue. The thoughts Trump expressed underline a series of racist and cruel policy decisions he has made in recent months, including terminating temporary protected status for 250,000 El Salvadoran disaster refugees.
Trump cannot lie his way out of this one. He laid bare his ugly soul, and all of America can see it.