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Trump says he's 'the least racist person' in fallout from immigrant slur

'I am not a racist,' Trump said in response to a shouted question from reporters

Shannon Pettypiece | Bloomberg 

US President Donald Trump stands between US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson (left) and Issac Newton Farris before signing a proclamation to honour Martin Luther King Jr day on Friday

told reporters he’s “the least racist person” as fallout continues from a vulgar remark about immigrants from Africa and Haiti attributed to the president following a meeting with lawmakers last week.

“I am not a racist,” Trump said in response to a shouted question from reporters as he entered his Palm Beach golf club Sunday night. “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you."

Trump was having dinner with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, to discuss negotiations on upcoming legislation -- in particular, what to do about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama administration policy covering undocumented immigrants bought to the US by their parents as minors.

“I think we have a lot of sticking points but they are all Democrat sticking points. Because we are ready willing and able to make a deal, but they don’t want to,” said Trump -- comments that echoed remarks made on Twitter in the past few days.

Congress must pass a stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown by next weekend, as the current spending law -- itself a stopgap measure --runs only through Jan. 19.

Trump was asked about his reported comment from Jan. 11, that he’d described places like Haiti and African nations as “shithole” countries. “Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments? They were not made,” he said.

Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia appeared on political talk shows on Sunday. Perdue said the description of Trump’s comments was “a gross misrepresentation,” and Cotton said he didn’t hear Trump use the expression.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was also in the meeting but said Sunday she didn’t recall that specific phrase being used.

First Published: Mon, January 15 2018. 09:15 IST