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Trump goes after Democrat who surfaced his immigration remark

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.  — President Donald Trump turned his Twitter torment Monday on the Democrat in the room where immigration talks with lawmakers took a famously coarse turn, saying Sen. Dick Durbin misrepresented what he had said about African nations and Haiti and, in the process, undermined the trust needed to make a deal.

On a day of remembrance for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Trump spent time at his golf course with no public events, bypassing the acts of service that his predecessor staged in honor of the civil rights leader on the holiday. Instead Trump dedicated his weekly address to King’s memory, saying King’s dream and America’s are the same: “a world where people are judged by who they are, not how they look or where they come from.”

That message was a distinct counterpoint to words attributed to Trump by Durbin and others at a meeting last week, when the question of where immigrants come from seemed at the forefront of Trump’s concerns. Some participants and others familiar with the conversation said Trump challenged immigration from “shithole” countries of Africa and disparaged Haiti as well.

Without explicitly denying using that word, Trump lashed out at the Democratic senator, who said Trump uttered it on several occasions.

“Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting,” Trump tweeted, using a nickname to needle the Illinois senator. “Deals can’t get made when there is no trust! Durbin blew DACA and is hurting our Military.”

He was referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children. Members of Congress from both parties are trying to strike a deal that Trump would support to extend that protection.

Durbin said Monday the White House should release whatever recording it might have of the meeting.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the six senators in the meeting with Trump on Thursday, supported Durbin’s account. As well, Durbin and people who were briefed on the conversation but were not authorized to describe it publicly said Trump also questioned the need to admit more Haitians.  They said Trump expressed a preference for immigrants from countries like Norway, which is overwhelmingly white.

Republican Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who also attended, initially said they did not hear Trump utter the word in question, then revised their account to deny he said it at all. Trump said Sunday: “I’m not a racist.”