The wave of international outrage grew Saturday against the vulgar language President Donald Trump used when referring to immigration from African nations, with Ghana’s president saying he would “not accept such insults, even from a leader of a friendly country, no matter how powerful.”
President Nana Akufo-Addo tweeted an unflinching defense of the African continent — and of Haiti and El Salvador, countries also mentioned during a meeting Thursday between Trump and a bipartisan group of senators at the White House.
Trump repeatedly referred to African nations in general as “shithole countries,” according to Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and also reportedly asked why the United States needs more Haitian immigrants instead of people from countries such as Norway.
In response, Akufo-Addo tweeted: “We are certainly not a ‘shithole country.'”
The language of @realDonaldTrump that the African continent, Haiti and El Salvador are “shithole countries” is extremely unfortunate. We are certainly not a “shithole country”. We will not accept such insults, even from a leader of a friendly country, no matter how powerful.— Nana Akufo-Addo (@NAkufoAddo) January 13, 2018
The White House did not initially deny Trump made those remarks. But as the controversy grew — with some members of Congress slamming the remarks as racist — the president on Friday responded in a tweet that the “language used by me at the … meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.”
Trump has not further clarified the statements attributed to him, and on Friday ignored questions reporters asked about it after he signed a proclamation honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Related: In Norway, Trump’s comments on immigration rejected as backhanded praise
Meanwhile, the condemnation has been swift. In addition to Ghana, the government of Botswana said Trump’s language is “reprehensible and racist,” and said it has summoned the U.S. ambassador to clarify what he meant.
Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, said in a statement that it was “shocked” and that “Africa and the black race merit the respect and consideration of all.” His West African nation has long been lauded by the U.S. as an example of a stable democracy on the continent.
Is Donald Trump a racist? President faces backlash over vulgar comments
The African Union, which is made up of 55 member states, also took issue with Trump’s remarks.
“Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice,” said spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo.
Paul Altidor, Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S., called Trump’s comments “regrettable” and based on “clichés and stereotypes rather than actual fact.” He also noted the insensitivity of its timing, coming the same week as the eighth anniversary of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people.
El Salvador’s government on Friday sent a formal letter of protest to the United States over the “harsh terms detrimental to the dignity of El Salvador and other countries.”
Trump has previously felt backlash over disparaging remarks about immigrants, most notably on the campaign trail when he characterized Mexicans as “rapists” and “criminals.”
The New York Times first reported in December that Trump said Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” during a summer 2017 meeting about immigration. At that same meeting, he also complained that Nigerian immigrants who come to the United States would never want to “go back to their huts.”
The White House denied Trump ever used the words “AIDS” or “huts.”
‘They’re rapists…all have AIDS’: Some of Trump’son immigrants, minorities
Trump’s apparent struggle with racial insensitivity also surfaced last fall. At the time, he asked a career intelligence analyst where she was from, and after learning she was of Korean heritage, asked why the “pretty Korean lady” isn’t negotiating with North Korea on his administration’s behalf, two officials with direct knowledge of the exchange told NBC News on Friday.
Trump’s remarks have prompted two top House Democrats to announce the introduction next week of a censure resolution of Trump.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a joint statement Friday that they were “deeply disturbed and offended” by the language.
Organizing a formal reprimand of Trump would be difficult since it will require getting bipartisan support in a GOP-controlled House. The censuring of a president is also rare, and was only done once by the Senate against Andrew Jackson in 1834 for his failure to turn over certain documents.