Mr Trump stands accused of using "s***hole" to describe various nations during an immigration meeting with a bipartisan group of six senators. On Friday the president initially ignored a reporter who asked "are you a racist?", only to declare a few days later: "I am not a racist". "The president and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel", Graham said, adding: "I've always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals".
On Capitol Hill, Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified under oath Tuesday that she "did not hear" Trump use the vulgarity to describe African countries.
There is internal debate in the West Wing over whether Trump said "shithole" or "shithouse".
Republican leaders were largely silent, though House Speaker Paul Ryan said the vulgar language was "very unfortunate, unhelpful".
South African foreign ministry officials met the U.S. chargé d'affaires and other U.S. Embassy officials in the capital to express South African concerns about Trump's reported comments, the ministry said in a statement. There appears to be little difference in meaning between the two words. But perhaps he also listened to what the other Republicans were saying, and had an insight that they would, indeed, back him up. "He's not going to apologize for trying to fix our immigration system". "Does it end with the government shutting down?" Purdue said Durbin had committed a "gross misrepresentation" of the president's words, and Cotton argued on CBS's Face the Nation that Durbin "has a history of misrepresenting what happens in White House meetings".
Word of Trump's comments threatened to upend delicate negotiations over resolving the status of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children. Trump has said he wants to extend it, but has also tweeted that Democrats aren't serious about getting a deal to extend it. "There shouldn't be because if there is our military gets hurt very badly".
This drama would be more entertaining were it not for the 800,000 immigrants whose fate under the protections of President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program hangs in the balance.
Seventy percent of American's and even slight majority of Trump supporters support passing a DACA deal that allows "Dreamers" to remain. Dick Durbin misrepresented what he had said about African nations and Haiti and, in the process, undermined the trust needed to make a deal. "I didn't hear that word either", said Arkansas Sen. "He turned to him and addressed that directly, directly in what I thought was one of the best statements about immigration policy in America I've ever heard", Durbin said.
He did say he was open to changing his diet, perhaps with smaller portion sizes on White House meals. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was in the meeting, substantiated Durbin's claim.
The president's remarks came at a moment of frustration during an Oval Office meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers Thursday, as they were presenting an opening bid for a broad immigration package.
Trump spent Thursday evening calling friends and outside advisers to judge their reaction, said the confidant, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to disclose a private conversation.
"They never took a thing from our federal government".
Trump has since denied his comments, saying, "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used".
Trump was meeting with lawmakers about a potential deal on immigration last week when he questioned why the USA should admit more people from Africa and Haiti.
"He said, 'Put me down for wanting more Europeans to come to this country".