CNN reporter Jim Acosta strongly implied President Donald Trump was a racist to his face in questioning at the White House on Tuesday.
During a White House meeting with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Acosta called out to Trump as the media availability was ending, “Mr. President, did you say you want more people to come in (to the U.S.) from Norway?”
“I want them to come in from everywhere, everywhere,” Trump replied. He then said, “Thank you, very much” emphasizing it was time for the media to leave.
Not accepting that answer, Acosta followed up more forcefully implying Trump is a racist.
“Just Caucasian or white countries or do you want people to come in from other parts of the world where there are people of color?” Acosta queried.
Trump turned to an aide and made clear the media’s time was over, pointing in the direction of the door and saying, “Out.”
In a tweet after the meeting, Acosta accused the White House of denying him the opportunity to continue to follow-up with the president.
The reporter’s original question was in reference to Trump’s reputed remarks in a White House meeting on immigration last week when, according to Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin, Trump referred to African nations as “sh–holes.” The Illinois lawmaker also claimed Trump asked why the U.S. could not have more people coming from Norway to immigrate to the U.S.
Sens. Tim Cotton, R- Ark. and David Perdue, R-Ga., who were also at the meeting, refuted Durbin’s claims saying they never heard Trump characterize nations as “sh–holes.”
“I didn’t hear it, and I was sitting no further away from Donald Trump than Dick Durbin was,” Cotton said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“I’m telling you he did not use that word, George, and I’m telling you it’s a gross misrepresentation,” Perdue told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” the same day.
Trump also refuted Durbin’s charge with a tweet on Monday, writing the senator “misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., questioned Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who also attended last week’s immigration meeting, during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday whether she heard Trump make the vulgar reference.
“I did not hear that word used, no sir,” Nielsen replied. “The conversation was very impassioned, I don’t dispute that the President was using tough language, others in the room were also using tough language.”
Later in the morning, Durbin further questioned Nielson about her recollection of what Trump said.
“What do you remember the president saying about immigration from African countries to the United States?” Durbin asked.
“What I heard him say that he would like to move away from a country-based quota system to a merit-based system,” Nielsen replied. “It shouldn’t matter where you’re from, it should matter what you can contribute to the United States.”
“Do you remember expressly the president saying, ‘I want more Europeans? Why can’t we have more immigrants from Norway?'” Durbin followed up.
The secretary responded that the context of the conversation was Trump asking why certain countries are under-represented in people coming to the U.S.
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