The comments drew sharp criticism with some calling them racist.
Trump’s comment was referring to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries, the Post reported, and he then suggested the U.S. try to increase immigration from countries like Norway.
More: Report: Trump uses crude term while attacking protections for immigrants
The White House did not deny Thursday that the president used the phrase, and the comments drew sharp criticism from U.S. politicians and pundits who called the remarks racist, among other things.
Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, called Trump’s words “divisive” and “elitist” and demanded he apologize to Americans and citizens from the countries “he so wantonly maligned.”
Here is my statement on the President’s comments today: pic.twitter.com/EdtsFjc2zL
Some of Love’s Republican colleagues joined her in condemning the remarks. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, called for a “detailed explanation” of the comments, and said immigrants, “regardless of their country of origin,” make America “special.”
HATCH: “I look forward to getting a more detailed explanation regarding the President’s comments. Part of what makes America so special is that we welcome the best and brightest in the world, regardless of their country of origin.” #utpol
Democrats quickly decried the comments, too. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called the words “blatant racism” and “a brazen betrayal of American values.”
President Trump’s remarks smack of blatant racism – odious and insidious racism masquerading poorly as immigration policy. He does not speak for me as an American.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the words were “sad,” while Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., tweeted immigrants “should be welcomed and celebrated, not demeaned and insulted.”
Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez simply tweeted, “My parents came from one of those countries.” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., added that Trump “does not speak for America.”
Former CIA Director John Brennan, who was appointed by former president Barack Obama, said Trump “demonstrates daily that he is a deeply flawed person” when sharing the Post‘s article. Without addressing the issue directly, former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump fired in May, said “This country’s greatness and true genius lies in its diversity.”
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” This country’s greatness and true genius lies in its diversity.
American Civil Liberties Union’s immigration policy director Lorella Praeli said in a statement the remarks show that “Trump has been consistently honest about the white nationalism behind his immigration policies,” and the National Immigration Law Center called it “repugnant” in a tweet.
It isn’t a dog whistle if everybody can hear it. This is blatantly racist and repugnant. https://t.co/g6XcVOBAAp
Republican political pundits also jumped on the comments, with some defending Trump.
“This is how the forgotten men and women in America talk in the bar.” Fox News host Jesse Watters said. “This is how Trump relates to people.”
Fellow Fox host Tucker Carlson suggested El Salvador may be a “shithole,” and conservative commentator Ann Coulter approved of Trump’s remark, saying “he’s trying to win me back.”
However, former adviser to Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign Michael Steel told Meet the Press it was a “borderline racist, stupid comment.” MSNBC host Chris Matthews thought the comments showed Trump is “unfit for office.”
If @realDonaldTrump is trying to play down the idea that he’s unfit for office, it’s not working. https://t.co/Fry4vzHuuS
CNN host Don Lemon called Trump racist on his show Thursday, and added “A lot of us already knew that.”
“This is CNN Tonight, I’m Don Lemon.
The President of the United States is racist. A lot of us already knew that.”
New York Daily News gave readers a sneak peek at their Friday cover on the issue.
[email protected] takes a dump on the American dream
An early look at Friday’s front: https://t.co/1Wj57JecKCpic.twitter.com/MmOW4VUIMx
Follow Ryan Miller on Twitter @Ryan W_Miller