Donald Trump is known for a lot of things, but “tact” is not one of them. That can be a glaring absence when you’re the President of the most powerful country in the world. You might recall a little incident in January when good ol’ POTUS was reported to have referred to Haiti and African countries as “shithole countries.” Yeah, that one was hard to forget.
A little refresher: it was reported by journalists from major outlets that in a meeting with fellow policy-makers on immigration, Trump wondered aloud, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries coming here?” He then added, “We need more people from Norway.” The Norwegian Prime Minister had just wrapped up her American trip at the time.
The backlash from the Left was quick while Republicans tried to deny it happened. People screamed “FAKE NEWS” and lawmakers condemned the use of vulgar language and the mentality behind it. Trump would not answer questions in person, silently leaving after his Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech the next day as reporters called, “Did you use the word ‘shithole’ to refer to African nations?” after him. He tweeted later that though his language was “tough” the reported phrase was not what he said.
The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
Fast-forward to nearly five months later, when POTUS is hosting Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari at the White House. On Monday, the two leaders held a joint press conference in the Rose Garden and took questions from reporters. Trump talked about the Iran Deal and the respect he has for Buhari but then things got a little awkward when those old comments came back to haunt him. Jordan Fabian of The Hill asked Buhari point-blank if he had brought up the “shithole” comment to Trump.
“You’re the first leader from sub-Saharan Africa to visit Donald Trump here at the White House. Did you address his reported comments from earlier this year when he reportedly used vulgar language to describe African nations?” Fabian asked. Buhari’s reply was measured, diplomatic and, well, presidential.
“I am very careful with what the press says about others and myself,” he said, “I’m not sure about the validity or whether that allegation against the president was true or not so the best thing for me is to keep quiet.”
Good. That was enough. Except after a brief pause, Trump just had to jump in there.
“We didn’t discuss it,” he said, adding almost immediately, “You do have some countries that are in very bad shape and very tough places to live in. We didn’t discuss it because the president knows me and he knows where I’m coming from and I appreciate that.”
A reporter asked Nigeria’s president about President Trump describing African nations as “sh*thole countries” and things got awkward. pic.twitter.com/m2OVTbR8k1
— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 1, 2018
Less of a denial and more of a justification for the comment. Interesting. To add another weird layer to the whole thing, former White House aid, Apprentice contestant and Big Brother participant, Omarosa Manigault-Newman later tweeted at the Nigerian president saying, “he said it.” To be clear, Omarosa was fired (or quit, depending on who you believe) a month before the meeting during which Trump allegedly made the comments.
— OMAROSA (@OMAROSA) April 30, 2018
When will the soap-opera-roller-coaster end?