The White House has reacted with a denial to a report that President Donald Trump implied Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and that Nigerian immigrants would “never go back to their huts”.
According to the New York Times, Mr Trump was said to have made the comments during a meeting with senior staff about levels of immigration in June, at which he complained too many were receiving US visas.
He was said to have grumbled that 15,000 Haitians who entered the United States in the preceding months “all have AIDS” and that the 40,000 Nigerian visitors would never “go back to their huts” in Africa.
Trump was also said to have complained about 2,500 people who had traveled to the US from Afghanistan, which he said was a terrorist haven, according to a New York Times report citing two officials who had either attended or were briefed on the meeting.
However, the White House denied the report that Mr Trump used the words “AIDS” or “huts” in reference to immigrants, calling the suggestions “lies based on anonymous sources”.
Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, and Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, were all in the meeting and denied Mr Trump used the reported words.
She said: “General Kelly, General McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims.
“And it’s both sad and telling the New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources’ anyway”.
The New York Times said its report was the product of more than three dozen interviews.
The explosive and disparaging remarks about immigrants attributed to the president were sourced to a pair of unnamed officials, one who the news outlet said were present in the meeting, and another who was briefed about the comments by a second attendee.
But the Times says several other participants told them they “did not recall” the President using those words.