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After reported "sh*thole countries" comment, Trump denies "language used"

Last Updated Jan 12, 2018 11:02 AM EST

President Trump issued a denial Friday about the language he used in an Oval Office meeting where he reportedly described Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as "sh*thole countries." The White House meeting on immigration included a bipartisan group of senators.

Mr. Trump tweeted that he used "tough" language but "not that language." Although it is being taken as a denial of the "sh*thole" comment, Mr. Trump did not specifically reference that phrase in his denial.

An hour later, he tweeted that he didn't say anything "derogatory" about Haitians. 

In Chicago, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, told reporters the president's denial wasn't true.

"It is not true," said Durbin, who was one of the lawmakers at the Oval Office meeting. "He said these hate-filled things. And he said them repeatedly."

After The Washington Post first reported Mr. Trump's remarks, later confirmed by CBS News' Nancy Cordes, the White House did not deny the comment in a statement.

"Why are we having all these people from sh*thole countries come here?" the president said in the Oval Office meeting with a handful of members of the House and Senate. "We should bring in more people from places like Norway," he added.

This came after Norway's prime minister had visited the White House Wednesday. The Trump administration recently decided to soon end Temporary Protected Status for citizens of countries like Haiti and El Salvador, who came to the U.S. to escape natural disasters.

In response to the report, White House spokesman Raj Shah did not deny Mr. Trump's comment.

"Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people," White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement. "The president will only accept an immigration deal that adequately addresses the visa lottery system and chain migration – two programs that hurt our economy and allow terrorists into our country.  Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation. He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway."

CBS News' Alan He contributed reporting to this article.

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.