While fuming and ranting about the number of immigrants entering the United States in a meeting over the summer, President Donald Trump reportedly "grumbled" that thousands of Haitian immigrants "all have AIDS," according to an explosive account published by the New York Times on Saturday.
Trump—reading from a document that "listed how many immigrants had received visas to enter the United States in 2017"—also reportedly said that once seeing the U.S., Nigerian immigrants would never "go back to their huts" in Africa.
The details of the June meeting in the Oval Office were relayed to the Times by two anonymous administration officials who found the comments "so noteworthy that they related them to others at the time." One of the officials attended the meeting, and the other was briefed on the meeting by a different official who was in attendance.
The White House denied the officials' account of the meeting in a statement provided to the Times in advance of its story, calling it "outrageous."
According to the Times, the meeting became increasingly tense after White House adviser Stephen Miller and chief of staff John Kelly began blaming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for the number of immigrants entering the country.
"Tempers flared and Mr. Kelly asked that the room be cleared of staff members. But even after the door to the Oval Office was closed, aides could still hear the president berating his most senior advisers," the Times reports.
The Times' account of the summer meeting comes just hours after a federal appeals court ruled that Trump exceeded his executive authority in the latest iteration of his Muslim ban. It also comes just over a month after the Trump administration announced that it would end Temporary Protected Status for tens of thousands of Haitians who have been living and working in the U.S. since the catastrophic 2010 earthquake.
Trump's reported comments sparked a firestorm of outrage, and many placed the remarks alongside Trump's previous claim that some Mexican immigrants are "rapists" who are bringing "crime" and "drugs" into the U.S.
"Even if the comments reported on Saturday go one step beyond what Trump might say in public (and it's a small step) they certainly feel like a plausible representation of the man 63 million Americans voted for—the man whose xenophobia has made America more closed off to the world than it has been in generations," concluded Benjamin Hart of New York Magazine.
people obsess over "dogwhistles" because it's more comfortable than confronting what's in front of them, but "Haitians all have AIDS," "Nigerians live in huts," and "Mexicans are rapists" are all very direct expressions of an extremely racist worldview— Tim Murphy (@timothypmurphy) December 23, 2017
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Its also crazy that no-one says something like, "Mr President, thats kinda racist" or even "not all Haitians have aids, Sir." No push-back at all. Just a group of racist white dudes and their silent enablers making immigration policy like its 1917. pic.twitter.com/eLHnhLOM1l— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) December 23, 2017
Terrifying that we have a president who:— Dani Bostick (@danibostick) December 23, 2017
✔Thinks all Hatians have AIDS
✔Thinks Nigerians live in huts
✔Called African American NFL protesters "sons of bitches"
✔Refused to rent to people of color
✔Suggested Nazis are fine people
✔Questioned Barak Obama's place of birth