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Trump denies 'shithole' comment, but admits 'tough' language

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President Trump on Friday said the bipartisan proposal senators brought him a day earlier is a nonstarter because it includes language to continue temporary protected status programs in countries the administration recently rescinded them. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Trump on Friday rejected reports that he told lawmakers that the U.S. should block immigrants from "shithole" countries, but admitted he used "tough" language in that meeting.

"The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used," Trump tweeted Friday. "What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made — a big setback for DACA!"

Trump wasn't more specific on Friday, but his tweet seemed to be a clear reference to reports that he told senators in a meeting to legislate a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that he didn't want immigrants from "shithole" countries like El Salvador, Haiti, and some African nations.

Despite that denial, the reporter who broke the story, Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post, said he stands by his reporting "100 percent," and noted that other news outlets were able to confirm the same quote from Trump.

Trump also sought to explain his thinking in three earlier tweets in which he said a bipartisan immigration plan that was presented on Thursday would allow too many people in from "high crime" countries. He said that's one of the key reasons why a bipartisan plan presented on Thursday is a nonstarter.

"The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards. Wall was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly," Trump said in a series of tweets, referring to temporary protected status countries.

"I want a merit based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level," he wrote. "I want safety and security for our people. I want to stop the massive inflow of drugs."

"I want to fund our military, not do a Dem defund because of the Democrats not being interested in life and safety, DACA has now taken a big step backwards. The Dems will threaten 'shutdown,' but what they are really doing is shutting down our military, at a time we need it most. Get smart, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" Trump finished.

On Thursday evening, reports broke that Trump had criticized the Gang of Six senators' plan to reinstate TPS programs for El Salvador, Haiti, and some African nations.

"Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" Trump said in the White House meeting with a group of senators, including Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

The comment sparked outrage among Democrats who did not hesitate to publicly slam Trump for what many said was a racist comment.