The secretary of homeland security got grilled at a Senate hearing about whether President Trump used the word 's***hole' in an Oval Office meeting – but acknowledged only hearing 'rough talk.'
Homeland Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen was interrogated by Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin – mocked as 'Dicky Durbin' in a tweet by the president on Monday – who also attended the meeting, and says Trump used the word to refer to nations in Africa.
Nielsen, under tense questioning under oath at the Senate Judiciary Committee, said she did not hear that specific word.
'There was a lot of rough talk by a lot of people in the room. But what I understood him to be saying is let’s move away from the countries and let’s look at the individual,' she said of President Trump.
'I don’t specifically remember a categorization of countries in Africa,' she told Durbin.
Durbin asked her point blank what was the 'strong language' she said was used.
'Let's see, strong language. There was, ah – apologies I don’t remember a specific word. What I was struck with frankly … is just the general profanity that was used in the room by almost everyone,' she answered.
'Did you hear me use profanity?' asked Durbin. 'No sir, neither did I.'
'I did hear tough language from Senator [Lindsey] Graham,' she allowed. 'I remember specific cusswords being used by a variety of members.' Durbin then observed that Graham only used the same words President Trump did in pushing back against him.
'I don’t specifically remember a categorization of countries in Africa,' Nielsen told Sen. Richard Durbin
Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois interrogated Nielsen about a meeting both of them attended with President Trump
Durbin said Graham 'repeated exactly the words used by the president which you cannot remember.'
'I did not hear that word used, no sir,' she said.
She also got asked repeatedly about Norway.
'Do you remember explicitly the president saying expressly I want more Europeans why can’t we have more immigrants from Norway?' Durbin asked her – picking up on another detail from an explosive Washington Post report.
'I do remember him asking about the concept of under-represented countries as a fix,' she said.
She answered: 'I heard him repeating what he had learned in a meeting before [with the country's prime minister] that they are industrious, that they are a hardworking country they don’t have much crime there they don’t have much debt,' she said.
'In general I just heard him giving compliments to Norway,' Nielsen added.
IN THE HOT SEAT: 'In general I just heard him giving compliments to Norway,' Nielsen added, although she said she didn't know whether Norway was a predominantly white country
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Deputy Chief of Staff