Ivana Trump on Monday denied her ex-husband is racist after he reportedly called Haiti and African nations “shithole countries.”
“I don’t think Donald is racist at all,” the president’s first wife told “Good Morning Britain.” “Sometimes he says these things which are silly, or he doesn’t really mean them ... but he’s definitely not racist, I’m sure of that.”
She suggested President Donald Trump isn’t responsible for the comment, because he’s surrounded by people who create talking points for him. “He has so many people telling him left and right what to say and what not to say and things like that, and sometimes maybe it gets confusing,” she said.
Which is why the president’s tweeting is “not a bad idea,” she continued. “If he tweets, it’s out of his mouth,” she said. “Sometimes maybe it’s not clear, but at least it’s exactly what he thinks.”
The president denied making the remarks, but acknowledged language he used during Thursday’s bipartisan White House meeting on immigration was “tough.” On Sunday, he told a group of reporters that he is “the least racist person you will ever interview.”
A handful of senators who attended the meeting, including Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), confirmed that Trump made the comment. Others, including Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), offered conflicting accounts.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who also attended, said she takes offense at claims that her boss is racist and couldn’t recall exactly what he said.
“I think he has been clear, and I would certainly say undoubtedly the president will use ― continue to use ― strong language when it comes to this issue because he feels very passionately,” Nielsen added.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story mistakenly indicated that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) was at the immigration meeting with Trump.