Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) went on the attack Sunday morning, attempting to smear Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and defend President Donald Trump from accusations that he said during a meeting on Thursday that he does not want immigrants coming to the U.S. from “shithole countries.”
“What we have going on here right now is a gross misrepresentation,” he repeatedly told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week.
When Stephanopoulos pressed Perdue on what the “gross representation” was, Perdue claimed it was “that language was used that was not used, and that the tone was not contributory or constructive.” However, when Stephanopoulos asked the senator to declare “flat out, definitively” that the president did not say those words, he again only said, “This was a gross misrepresentation.”
To make his argument, Perdue alleged that Durbin — who insisted Trump “said these hate-filled things” — has a history of inventing such quotes, referring to a case in 2013 when Durbin claimed that a House Republican leader said to President Obama, “I cannot even stand to look at you.” The Obama White House and then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) claimed that it did not happen.
When confronted with the fact that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had also confirmed the “shithole” comments as “basically accurate,” Perdue dismissed his colleague, saying, “You’ll have to deal with him. ‘Basically’ is the operative word.”
On Friday, Perdue had issued a joint statement with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) claiming that they “do not recall the President saying these comments.”
Senators Perdue & Cotton on Trump yesterday: "we do not recall the President saying those comments specifically" pic.twitter.com/nLQb34r6x3
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) January 12, 2018
Moments after Perdue’s interview, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) reiterated to Stephanopoulos that though he was not in the Thursday meeting himself, his colleagues who were told him shortly thereafter that Trump had made the “shithole” comment “before it went public.”