Sat | Mar 24, 2018

Presidential aides debate which version of vulgarity Trump uttered

Published:Wednesday | January 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Haitian community members hold an image depicting from left, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and President Donald Trump during a protest near Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday.


As the fallout over President Donald Trump's use of a vulgarity bleeds into a second week, aides to the president are locked in an internal debate over which version of the word the president used to describe certain countries during immigration talks with senators.

Trump was said to have uttered "s***thole" during last Thursday's conversation in the Oval Office, a version backed up by Sen Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and some Republicans.

Asked about Trump's comments challenging his honesty, Durbin told reporters yesterday: "I stand by every word I said about what was said."

But Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified under oath yesterday that she "did not hear" President Donald Trump use the vulgarity to describe African countries. But she says she doesn't "dispute the President was using tough language."

Sen Patrick Leahy, D-Vt, asked her specifically if she heard the vulgarity used or a "substantially similar word" to describe certain countries. She said "others in the room were also using tough language".

There is internal debate in the West Wing over whether Trump said 's***thole or 's***thouse'. One person who attended the meeting told aides that they heard the latter expletive, while others recalled the president saying the more widely reported 's..thole', according to a person briefed on the meeting but not authorised to speak publicly about private conversations.

The person believes the discrepancy may be why some Republican senators are denying having heard the president say 's***thole'.

Trump has not clarified to aides what he said, but told reporters Sunday night in Florida that comments attributed to him "weren't made". The White House has not denied that Trump used a vulgar term and indicated yesterday that no apology would be forthcoming.