• Cliff Avril: 'As a proud descendant of Haiti, I'm disappointed by the divisive words' from Trump

    By: KIRO 7 News Staff

    Updated:

    Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril is speaking out about President Donald Trump using vulgar language to disparage African nations in a meeting with lawmakers about a proposed bipartisan deal on immigration.

    "As a proud descendant of Haiti, I’m disappointed by the divisive words from the President. Haitians and others have contributed to this country and should be able to continue to do so," he wrote on Twitter.

    President Trump on Friday offered a partial denial in public but privately defended his extraordinary remarks. Trump said he was only expressing what many people think but won't say about immigrants from economically depressed countries, according to a person who spoke to the president as criticism of his comments ricocheted around the globe.


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    Trump spent Thursday evening making a flurry of calls to friends and outside advisers to judge their reaction to the tempest, said the confidant, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to disclose a private conversation. Trump wasn't apologetic about his inflammatory remarks and denied he was racist, instead, blaming the media for distorting his meaning, the confidant said.

    However, critics of the president, including some in his own Republican Party, spent Friday blasting the vulgar comments he made behind closed doors. In his meeting with a group of senators, he had questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and "s***hole countries" in Africa as he rejected a bipartisan immigration deal, according to one participant and people briefed on the remarkable Oval Office conversation.

    The comments revived charges that the president is racist and roiled immigration talks that were already on tenuous footing.

    "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used," Trump insisted in a series of Friday morning tweets, pushing back on some depictions of the meeting.

    But Trump and his advisers notably did not dispute the most controversial of his remarks: using the word "s***hole" to describe African nations and saying he would prefer immigrants from countries like Norway instead.

    Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the only Democrat in the room, said Trump had indeed said what he was reported to have said. The remarks, Durbin said, were "vile, hate-filled and clearly racial in their content."

    He said Trump used the most vulgar term "more than once."

    When it came to talk of extending protections for Haitians, Durbin said Trump replied: "We don't need more Haitians.'"

    "He said 'Put me down for wanting more Europeans to come to this country. Why don't we get more people from Norway?" Durbin told reporters in Chicago.

    Haitian President Jovenel Moise's government issued a strongly worded statement at what it called a "racist" depiction of Haiti.

    "The Haitian government condemns in the strongest terms these abhorrent and obnoxious remarks which, if proven, reflect a totally erroneous and racist view of the Haitian community and its contribution to the United States," it said.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report


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