NEW ORLEANS -- A Democratic senator claims President Trump used the term "s***hole countries" during a discussion on immigration to describe Haiti and African nations that send immigrants to the United States.
Senator John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, was not in Thursday's meeting at the White House, but had this to say about the comments attributed to the president.
"I don't want to sugar coat this," Kennedy said. "If the president said it, he shouldn't have said it. If he meant it from a racial perspective, I don't agree with him. But, my experience with President Trump is that he's not a racist."
But, Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana, released a statement saying, "President Trump's comments are yet another confirmation of his racially insensitive and ignorant views. It also reinforces the concerns that we hear every day, that the President's slogan Make America Great Again is really code for Make America White Again."
President Trump has since denied using vulgar language at his immigration meeting.
"The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used," he tweeted. "Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country."
Hector Louis Jeune is from Haiti, now living in Harvey, a suburb of New Orleans. He hosts a weekly show called the voice of the people of Haiti on WRBH radio. Jeune said his phone has been ringing since early Friday morning.
"I'm questing the humanity in such a statement," Jeune said. "Knowing that there are people living there, we have feelings. I think he hurt everybody, every Haitian."
Jeune is now urging people to form their own opinion of his home country.
"Get on a plane right now and go to this country, that beautiful country, beautiful people, the most amazing people, beautiful beaches," Jeune said.
National Urban League President and former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial said, "President Trump's crude statement regarding immigration from Haiti and African nations is appalling for its lack of compassion, and stunning for its ignorance about the contributions of Haitian and African immigrants."
Senator Kennedy said responding to the president's remarks and Tweets has become a distraction on Capitol Hill.
"I understand it's news, I'm not suggesting it's not news, but it is a weapon of mass distraction," he said.