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Senators who didn’t recall Trump using vulgarity backtrack

January 15, 2018

FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2016, file photo, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., walks to the elevator for a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower, in New York. Casting a cloud over already tenuous negotiations, President Donald Trump said Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, a program that protects immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and live here illegally is “probably dead” and blamed Democrats, days before some government functions would start shutting down unless a deal is reached. Perdue said “the potential is there” for a deal to protect the “Dreamers” but that Democrats needed to get serious. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Two Republican senators who had said they did not recall President Donald Trump using a vulgarity to describe African countries backtracked Sunday and challenged other senators’ descriptions of the remark.

Trump has been accused of using the word “shithole” to describe African countries during an Oval Office meeting Thursday with a bipartisan group of six senators in which the president also questioned the need to admit more Haitians to the U.S., according to people briefed on the conversation but not authorized to describe it publicly. Trump also said in the meeting that he would prefer immigrants from countries like Norway instead.

The White House has not denied that Trump uttered the word “shithole,” though Trump has pushed back on some depictions of the meeting.

Georgia Sen. David Perdue and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton had issued a statement on Friday saying they “do not recall the President saying those comments specifically.”

Perdue on Sunday described as a “gross misrepresentation” reports that Trump used the vulgarity. He said Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were mistaken in indicating that was the case. All four senators were at the meeting.

“I am telling you that he did not use that word. And I’m telling you it’s a gross misrepresentation,” Perdue said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Cotton said he “didn’t hear” the word used — “and I was sitting no further away from Donald Trump than Dick Durbin was,” Cotton told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

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Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.

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