Democratic Sen. Cory Booker says he doesn’t believe the White House’s explanations for comments President Donald Trump allegedly made in a closed-door meeting last week.
“I don’t believe it at all,” Booker, a New Jersey senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday. “Not only do I trust Dick Durbin, he’s a man of immense character, but also Lindsey Graham, who’s been a friend and a partner on many things, who has said everything, nothing that is contrary to what has been reported by others that happened in that room.”
Trump on Friday denied describing certain nations as “shithole countries” in that meeting, arguing that the wording he used was different from the words that Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and others attributed to him.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!” Trump tweeted.
Conflicting stories coming from those in the room about what exactly was said have caused a mix of condemnation and confusion.
Booker made headlines earlier Tuesday during a testy oversight hearing in which Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denied hearing Trump say the words “shithole” or “shithouse” when talking about immigrants from African countries in the White House meeting.
“The commander in chief in an Oval Office meeting referring to people from African countries and Haitians with the most vile and vulgar language, that language festers,” Booker told Nielsen in a fiery speech. “When ignorance and bigotry is allied with power it is a dangerous force in our country. Your silence and your amnesia is complicity.”
Later, Booker told Cuomo that he had been frustrated with the sentiments Trump reportedly expressed in the meeting.
“It’s not the vulgarity, it’s definitely not the vulgarity,” Booker told CNN. “It’s the bigotry and discrimination that comes from the mouth of the President that in our climate today causes damage. Those words don’t just disappear. … This has been an angering few days for me, but also a sad few days.”