PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump declared on Sunday night that he was “not a racist” and insisted that the derogatory comment attributed to him during an Oval Office meeting on immigration last week did not occur.
“I’m not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you,” Mr. Trump said as he arrived at Trump International Golf Club for dinner with Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority leader.
Asked about the comments he was reported to have made, including a reference to African nations as “shithole countries,” Mr. Trump indicated that he did not say what had been attributed to him.
“Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments? They weren’t made,” Mr. Trump said, referring to two Republican senators who said on Sunday morning talk shows that the president never made, or that they did not hear, racist comments about Africa and Haiti.
Asked about whether he still expects to reach a deal to extend protections for immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, Mr. Trump blamed Democrats for refusing to negotiate in good faith over the program known as DACA.
“Honestly, I don’t think the Democrats want to make a deal,” he said. “I think they talk about DACA but they don’t want to help the DACA people.”
Mr. Trump said there were “a lot of sticking points, but they are all Democratic sticking points.”
“They don’t want security at the border, there are people pouring in,” the president added. “They don’t want security at the border, they don’t want to stop the drugs.”
“And they want to take money away from our military, which we will not do.”
Mr. Trump said he hoped there would not be a shutdown of the government over what he said was Democratic unwillingness to compromise on DACA.
“I don’t know if there is going to be a shutdown,” he said. “There shouldn’t be, because if there is, our military gets hurt very badly. We cannot let our military be hurt.”
Speaking to reporters for about three minutes as he entered his golf club, the president made his first comments on the mistaken alert sent to Hawaii residents on Saturday warning that a ballistic missile attack was imminent.
The president said that the mistake was “a state thing,” but that “we are going to now get involved in that.” He declined to answer a question about what the federal government would do to try to make sure that a mistaken alert like the one in Hawaii is not sent out again.
“I love that they took responsibility,” he said of the state officials in Hawaii. “They took total responsibility. But we are going to get involved. Their attitude and their — I think it is terrific. They took responsibility. They made a mistake.”
“We hope it won’t happen again,” he said. “Part of it is people are on edge, but maybe eventually we will solve the problem so they won’t have to be so on edge.”
Mr. Trump repeated his earlier criticism on Twitter of a Wall Street Journal report that he had boasted of a close relationship with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator.
“The Wall Street Journal, as you know, quoted it totally wrong,” he said.
Asked about resolving the North Korea threat, Mr. Trump said: “They have got a couple of meetings scheduled, couple of additional meetings scheduled. We’re going to see what happens. Hopefully, it’s all going to work out.”
“We have great talks going on, the Olympics you know about. A lot of things can happen,” the president said, referring to talks between North Korea and South Korea, including conversations about the North Koreans’ attending the coming Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Courtesy: The New York Times