DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Tuesday snapped at Senate Democrats who hounded her repeatedly over whether President Trump said some countries were "shithole countries" in a meeting last week.
Nielsen was testifying at the Senate Judiciary Committee, where five Democrats each made a point of asking her about Trump's reported comment. She said several times that she never heard Trump say those words, but when Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., raised it for the fourth time, Nielsen said enough was enough.
"Sir, respectfully, I have answered this," she said. "I've been very patient with this line of questioning. I'm here to tell you about the threats our country faces and the needs and authorities that are needed by the Department of Homeland Security."
"I have nothing further to say about a meeting that happened over a week ago," she added. "I'd like to move forward and discuss ways in which we can protect our country."
Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., started up the questions about Trump's remarks, just days after most Democrats said they showed he is racist.
"You were in the room. You're under oath. Did President Trump use this word or a substantially similar word to describe certain countries?" Leahy asked.
"I did not hear that word used. No sir," Nielsen said.
"That's not my question. Did he use anything similar to that describing certain countries?" Leahy pressed.
"The conversation was very impassioned. I don't dispute that the president was using tough language. Others in the room were also using tough language," Nielsen replied. "The concept and context, I believe, in which this came up was the concept that the president would like to move to a merit-based system. He would like to not and no longer look at quotas.
"The others aren't president," Leahy fired back.
In her replies to Leahy and Senate Minority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Nielsen said she never heard those comments.
"There was, I apologize, I don’t remember a specific word," she said in her exchange with Durbin. "What I was struck with — the general profanity that was used in the room by almost everyone."
"Did you hear me use profanity?" Durbin asked. When Nielsen said she did not, Durbin then asked if she heard Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., use profane language.
"I did hear tough language from Senator Graham … he used tough language. He was impassioned," she said.
Nielsen offered similar comments to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and then Blumenthal. Despite her pointed remarks to Blumenthal, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, also asked about Trump's reported "shithole" comment.
"We would all like to move on so I would like a very short yes or no answer to this question. Before I move on to ask you questions about what happened in Hawaii this weekend, you've testified that you did not hear the president use the words "s-hole" or "s-house" though he could have said those words and you just didn't hear it. My question is did you hear Senator Graham use the words "s-hole" or "s-house?"
"No," Nielsen answered, shaking her head.