During an interview with Fox News’ Harris Faulkner on Friday afternoon, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) dismissed racist remarks by President Trump as “a distraction” and criticized a Democratic senator, Dick Durbin, for informing the public about them in the first place.
Faulkner asked Cassidy about whether there’s “an etiquette” and “an honor” in “meeting privately and not discussing what was talked about. And while [what Trump said] may be incendiary, I want to get your take on that.”
Faulker was referring to the meeting with lawmakers on Thursday in which Trump called African nations “shithole countries” — comments that were later shared by people in the room with the Washington Post. Durbin spoke with reporters on Friday about Trump’s “vile and racist” remarks and confirmed the Post’s account. Additional confirmation come from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who on Friday afternoon released a statement saying he “appreciate[s] Senator Durbin’s statements.”
Cassidy indicated he agreed with Faulker’s suggestion about there being something problematic with Durbin’s move to inform the American public about racist remarks made by their president.
“I totally agree with you,” Cassidy said. “It undermines trust going forward. Whatever was or was not said, if you disagree with what the fellow or the gal said, then you disagree with them, publicly then. But to go out and kind of, ah, report it, is going to undermine trust — not just for this issue, but for further issues.”
“It’s just a rule of human contact, whether it’s a marriage or a friendship or a political negotiation,” he added.
Unlike a private conversation between two friends, the president has no reason to expect confidentiality when making racist comments around public officials.
Fox News has gone to great lengths to defend Trump. On Friday morning, Trump’s favorite network went as far as to ignore its own confirmation of what Trump said during the White House meeting in what appeared to be an effort to lend credence to the president’s unpersuasive denial.
Cassidy isn’t the only Republican senator suggesting Durbin somehow acted in bad faith. Friday afternoon, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AK) and David Perdue (R-GA) released a statement saying “regrettably, it seems that not everyone is committed to negotiating in good faith.”
While Cotton and Perdue stop short of denying that Trump made racist comments, they add, “In regards to Senator Durbin’s accusation, we do not recall the President saying these comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system.”