Trump denies he's racist as Americans honour Martin Luther King

Donald Trump

Hundreds of Haitian-Americans and others have rallied in Times Square to denounce racism and remarks that President Donald Trump is said to have made disparaging African countries and questioning further USA acceptance of Haitian immigrants.

Trump on Friday tweeted a convoluted denial about the comments, which were reported by The Washington Post and The New York Times and confirmed by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who attended the meeting at which they were said to have been spoken.

Asked to respond to people who think he's racist, Trump told reporters: "I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed".

Trump said in the meeting that he would prefer immigrants from countries like Norway instead.

Trump was meeting with lawmakers about a potential deal on immigration last week when he questioned why the USA should admit more people from Africa and Haiti. While the president veered off script, his party also spent the weekend quibbling over what was said and where the disputed comments sit on the scale of moral repugnance.

State Department officials said diplomats have been advised not to try to interpret or soften the President's remarks.

Trump's comments on Sunday were a departure from the White House's initial statement, which did not deny the comments outright, but noted that the president did not denigrate Haiti, as was alleged. Trump wrote, "I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians".

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But the storm around Trump's alleged comments is not simply fueling debates about his fitness for office-it's also dividing his own party, and deepening the gulf between Democrats and Republicans as both sides struggle to reach a deal to fund the government and to protect undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers. Durbin said the remarks were "vile, hate-filled and clearly racial in their content".

"He said, 'Put me down for wanting more Europeans to come to this country".

Trump and fellow Republicans have disputed public accounts of the discussion. They said Trump expressed a preference for immigrants from countries like Norway, which is overwhelmingly white.

Senator David Purdue, a Republican from Georgia who attended the session, called charges that Trump is racist "ridiculous" and insisted reports on his remarks were a "gross misrepresentation".

President Donald Trump says he's not a racist. Trump announced past year that he will end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, unless lawmakers come up with a solution by March.

"Honestly I don't think the Democrats want to make a deal", Trump said.

Trump and some Republicans have said the senators' agreement is insufficient.

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