NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - At a Martin Luther King Jr. proclamation signing on Friday, President Donald Trump ignored questions from a reporter asking if he is a racist. He is dealing with the firestorm of controversy that has erupted around the world over his profane description of Haiti and counties in Africa.
Trump on Thursday reportedly asked why the U.S. should permit immigrants from "s---hole countries," according to three people briefed on the oval office conversation.
"Ours is not a s---hole country, neither is Haiti or any other country in distress," said South Africa's Jessie Duarte, a deputy secretary-general of the African National Congress.
A United Nations official also weighed in.
"These are shocking and shameful comments from the president of the United States," U.N. spokesman Rupert Colville said. "I'm sorry but there's no other word one can use but 'racist.'"
In a series of tweets, the president denied using such vulgar language.
"The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used," he wrote. "What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!"
He described his language as tough but not derogatory. His response stands in stark contrast to what other lawmakers say they heard at that bipartisan DACA gathering.
"He said, 'Haitians? Do we need more Haitians?' And then he went on and started to describe the immigration from Africa that was being protected in this bipartisan measure," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said. "That's when he used these vile and vulgar comments."
Durbin also praised the efforts of Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was at the meeting and reportedly confronted the president immediately.
Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue said they did not hear the president's racist remark. Other lawmakers have remained noticeably silent.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said, "Very unfortunate, unhelpful."
"The anniversary of the devastating earthquake 8 years ago is a day to remember the tragedy, honor the resilient people of Haiti, & affirm America's commitment to helping our neighbors," Hillary Clinton tweeted. "Instead, we're subjected to Trump's ignorant, racist views of anyone who doesn't look like him.
Botswana's government called the president's remark "racist."
President Macky Sall of Senegal said, "Africa and the black race merit the respect and consideration of all."
But big picture here at home: there's even more concern, talks about dreamers-- could easily collapse, in the wake of Trump's unnecessary and unkind remarks.