(NPR Online) – In his first meeting at the White House with a sub-Saharan African leader, President Trump said controversial remarks he reportedly made, in which he referred to some developing nations as “shithole countries,” didn’t come up.
Trump, however, didn’t deny making the comment, and as Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, chuckled, Trump said at a news conference Monday, “You do have some countries that are in very bad shape — and very tough places to live in.”
Trump also chose not to apologize, when given the opportunity, for his immigration rhetoric, as his travel ban — derided by critics as a Muslim ban — awaits a decision at the Supreme Court. One of the arguments against the ban made by challengers at the court last week was that Trump intended it as a Muslim ban because of his rhetoric during the 2016 presidential campaign — and showed no remorse for his comments.
Apologizing, Trump said, “wouldn’t make 10 cents’ worth of difference.” Instead, he called U.S. laws “a disaster” and said the U.S. and those laws are laughed at all over the world “for their stupidity.”
Buhari, for his part, tried to walk a fine diplomatic line. (Trump also noted that the U.S. had sold military equipment to Nigeria and provided the country with “well over $1 billion in aid every year.”) “I’m very careful,” Buhari said, adding, “I’m not sure about the validity or whether that allegation against the president was true or not, so the best thing for me is to keep quiet.”