Republicans continued to make credibility a vanishing feature of their party today when several GOP Senators appeared on morning news shows to deny that President Trump ever used the phrase “shithole countries” in his bi-partisan immigration meeting with congressional leaders in the Oval Office earlier this week.
The comments were originally revealed by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) who set up the meeting along with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to discuss the bipartisan deal they had been negotiating to restore the DACA program that Trump ended. Graham did not confirm or deny the President’s statement, but merely said that he had told Trump directly what he felt and that he “appreciates” Senator Durbin’s statements.
Now, several of the other Republican Senators who attended the meeting are trying to create revisionist history, denying that the President used those words and choosing loyalty to Trump over principle and truth by calling their colleague Senator Durbin a liar.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation this morning and lobbed this insulting accusation at Senator Durbin:
“I didn’t hear that word. I certainly didn’t hear what Sen. Durbin has said repeatedly. Sen. Durbin has a history of misrepresenting what happens in White House meetings so, perhaps, we shouldn’t be surprised by that.”
Cotton claims that he was sitting no further away from President Trump than Senator Durbin was, yet if Lindsey Graham refuses to deny the President’s words, it can only be a naked partisan decision for Cotton, who supports the President’s plans to limit immigration, to call a Democrat a liar rather than admit that Trump is a racist.
Senator Cotton must have coordinated his attacks with Senator David Perdue (R-GA) who also attended the meeting and initially pulled a Jeff Sessions move when asked about Trump’s comments saying he did not recall the remarks. Cotton appeared on ABC’s This Week and now explicitly claims that he did not hear the President “use that word,” calling it a “gross misrepresentation.”
One Republican Senator who did not attend the meeting also went on TV to decry the reports. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) appeared on Fox News on Friday and criticized Senator Durbin for making the remarks public at all.
“It undermines trust going forward. Whatever was or was not said, if you disagree with what the fellow or the gal said, then you disagree with them, publicly then. But to go out and kind of, ah, report it, is going to undermine trust — not just for this issue, but for further issues.”
“It’s just a rule of human contact, whether it’s a marriage or a friendship or a political negotiation,” he added.
Obviously, the Republicans had yet to decide on Friday that complete denial was the proper strategy for dealing with the fallout from Trump’s comments, so Senator Cassidy only implied that Senator Durbin was impolite and unhelpful in shedding light on the President’s racism rather than calling him an outright liar as his colleagues moved to on Sunday.
The credibility of all the GOP congressional leaders supporting the White House by joining their denial of the shameful words is completely undermined by the reports from Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who slammed Trump immediately after he heard about the comments from people who attended the meeting.
The words used by the President, as related to me directly following the meeting by those in attendance, were not “tough,” they were abhorrent and repulsive.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) January 12, 2018
At least a few Republican Senators have the guts to tell the truth. It’s a shame that their are still so many who feel compelled to defend the indefensible out of their own self-interest.