They “all have AIDS” is just one of the ways President Donald Trump described immigrants who had received visas to enter the United States in 2017, according to a damning report published by The New York Times Saturday.
Six White House officials spoke to the Times and relayed the story of a June meeting in which Trump read from a document highlighting the number of visa recipients.
The president lamented that more than 2,500 recipients were from Afghanistan, expressing concerns about terrorism.
He bemoaned the 15,000 who came from Haiti, saying that they “all have AIDS.” The 40,000 who came from Nigeria, Trump said, would never “go back to their huts” after seeing the United States.
The Times reports that the tone of the meeting eventually escalated, as then-Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly and White House domestic policy advisor Stephen Miller began blaming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for the number of immigrants who had come to the country, “prompting the secretary of state to throw up his arms in frustration.”
The Times reported that Tillerson replied angrily that “if he was so bad at his job, maybe he should stop issuing visas altogether”.
The report comes on the heels of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling Friday that Trump’s travel ban, the third he has proposed since becoming president, is illegal.
The decision read that the ban, issued in September, imposed “indefinite and significant restrictions and limitations on entry of nationals” from seven countries — Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.
The June meeting, which officials said began with Trump expressing his frustration over the number of foreigners who had come to the United States since his travel ban in January, highlights the president’s obsession with immigration as the primary cause of many of the United States’ problems.
“He’s basically saying, ‘You people of color coming to America seeking the American dream are a threat to the white people,'” Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigrant organization America’s Voice, told the Times. “He’s come into office with an aggressive strategy of trying to reverse the demographic changes underway in America.”
When the president’s first travel ban was blocked, the Times reported, Trump was “furious” and often took his anger out on White House officials.
“He did not want a watered-down version of the travel ban, he yelled at Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel,” the Times reported. “Mr. McGahn insisted that administration lawyers had already promised the court that Mr. Trump would issue a new order.”
“This is bullshit,” Trump said, according to the Times.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the Times that the offensive comments about immigrants was not true, calling the claims “outrageous.”
Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who was not one of the story’s writers, took to Twitter to bolster the report:
Two people who described the comments found them so noteworthy that they related them to others at the time, well predating WH pushback https://t.co/wiGpOlAwQM
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) December 23, 2017
“Two people who described the comments found them so noteworthy that they related them to others at the time, well predating [White House] pushback,” Haberman said.