Trump questioned why the USA would accept more immigrants from Haiti and counties in Africa rather than places like Norway, as he rejected the bipartisan immigration deal, according to people briefed on the extraordinary Oval Office conversation.
"Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people", said White House spokesman Raj Shah. "They betray profound racism and ignorance of the challenges these countries face, in part because of decades of misguided policies imposed by the United States over decades". He also claimed the deal would force the United States to "to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly", but did not offer any specifics or evidence.
"We sent guidance to our folks and told them that we must reiterate that we have great respect for the people of Africa and all nations, and our commitment remains strong", he said.
The arc of this latest controversy followed a similar pattern from others involving President Trump over the past year - Democrats expressed outrage and demanded an apology, while most Republicans talked about something else.
Mr Durbin said he told Mr Trump the word "chain migration" - used by opponents of immigration to describe people sponsoring family members to join them in the U.S. - was "painful" for many African-Americans whose ancestors had arrived in the United States as slaves.
"It was so disturbing this morning to hear President Trump's comments reported all over the news calling my poor native land and African countries "s...hole" nations", Jean said in a statement to The Canadian Press. She said, "This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation" and called on Trump to apologize to the American people "and the nations he so wantonly maligned".
The president met on Thursday with Senators Lindsey Graham, Republican of SC, and Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of IL.
Trump then "said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist", Durbin said, adding that "shithole" was "the exact word used by the president, not just once but repeatedly". Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who - without relating the exact details of the President's remarks - said they were not proper.
Trump defended his "tough" rhetoric on immigration, but said he didn't say anything derogatory toward immigrants.