What to Know
- Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart released a statement confirming he was at the meeting but shed no light on the reported comments by Trump
- Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz denounces "racist" Trump
A Miami lawmaker who attended Thursday's White House meeting where President Donald Trump reportedly referred to African nations as "s--thole countries" spoke out Friday but didn't directly address the comments.
Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart released a statement confirming he was at the meeting but shed no light on the reported comments by Trump, who denied using certain "language" in the private meeting with lawmakers in which he also reportedly disparaged Haitians.
"For months, I have been involved in numerous high level bipartisan meetings negotiating DACA, including Thursday’s meeting at the White House. There are almost 800,000 young DACA beneficiaries who will face imminent deportation in March if we do not reach a deal," Diaz-Balart's statement read. "I will not be diverted from all possible efforts to continue negotiating to stop the deportations. Nothing will divert my focus to stop the deportation of these innocent people whose futures are at stake."
Trump made the remarks in a meeting as he was being briefed by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on changes to the visa lottery program, according to an aide with knowledge of the meeting.
Trump said on Twitter Friday morning that, "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!"
Two Republican senators who attended the meeting, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, said they did not recall Trump making the comments.
"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," they said in a statement.
Meanwhile, South Florida lawmakers continued to criticize Trump's comments on Friday.
"The president's comments were vile, horrendous, and I think it's no longer debatable that President Trump's a racist, that he has fomented racism and has sent very clear signals to fellow racists around the country to engage in discriminatory horrendous activity and it is beneath the office of the presidency and absolutely disgusting," Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz told NBC 6.
"How awful, how low can you go? I deal with children on a daily basis and I have no way to explain to them how the president of the United States can be so terrible to people of color, black people, black nations," Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson said. "It's racist talk and it should be condemned by every elected official in this nation."