In tweets posted Friday, Trump denied using that language during the meeting, but did say the language he used was “tough.”
He later tweeted that he “never said anything derogatory about Haitians.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) confirmed Trump made derogatory remarks during the Thursday meeting, calling his comments “hate-filled, vile and racist.”
“I’ve seen the comments in the press,” Durbin said. “I’ve not read one of them that’s inaccurate.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper suggested Trump may have tweeted the latter denial because he only referred to African nations as “shithole countries” while discussing the diversity visa lottery and merely questioned why “we need more Haitians” in America during a separate part of the conversation.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump asked, before suggesting the U.S. should welcome more immigrants from countries like Norway, according to people in the room.
In November, Trump’s administration announced it would end temporary protected status for Haitians, meaning recipients will have to achieve legal status, return to Haiti by July 2019 or risk deportation. Some lawmakers have proposed granting visas to individuals from Haiti, El Salvador and multiple African nations who are in the U.S. on temporary protected status.