A CNN anchor has led criticism of Donald Trump and launched an impassioned defence of Haiti after the President complained about immigrants from the Caribbean nation and other ”s***hole countries” coming to the US.
Anderson Cooper, one of the first foreign journalists to arrive in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that killed up to 220,000 people, said the nation’s people had “been through more, they’ve withstood more, they’ve fought back against more injustice than our President ever has”.
He described Mr Trump’s remarks, made during an Oval Office meeting with congressional leaders, as “racist”.
After ideas for restoration projects to help immigrants in Haiti, El Salvador, and unspecified African countries were floated as a potential part of a bipartisan immigration deal, the President is reported to have said: “Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?”
Mr Trump is said to have suggested that the US should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met with on Wednesday.
“Norway, whose population is overwhelmingly of Nordic descent. White people, in other words,” Mr Cooper note.
Speaking on his programme Anderson Cooper 360, he added: “For the President to believe that Haitians have not contributed extraordinary things to American society, that is ignorant. For him to claim that all the countries of Africa are ‘s***holes’ is woefully ignorant.
“Perhaps the White House feels the President’s remarks will be well received in some parts of this country, among some parts of the President’s base. But it doesn’t make what he said any less ignorant or any less racist. Not racial. Not racially charged. Racist.”
Fellow CNN host Don Lemon also attacked Mr Trump over his “disgusting” remarks, declaring: “The President of the United States is racist. A lot of us already knew that.”
But he said the President’s comments were “not shocking”, adding: “They’re not even really surprising. Because this is who Donald Trump is.”
CNN has frequently been the prime target of Mr Trump’s anti-media tirades. Since his election he has described the broadcaster as “the enemy of the American people”, regularly dismissed the network as “fake news”, and implied violence by sharing a video of him body-slamming the CNN logo.
The White House has made no attempt to deny Mr Trump's remarks about immigrants from "s***hole countries".
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” said spokesman Raj Shah.
“Like other countries that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.
“He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway.”
But Mr Cooper suggested the President could learn from "the dignity" of Haitians.
In an impassioned defence of the troubled nation, he said: “Like all countries, Haiti is a collection of people - rich and poor, well educated and not, good and bad. But I’ve never met a Haitian who isn’t strong, and you have to be to survive in a place where the government has often abandoned its people, where opportunities are few, and where Mother Nature has punished the people far more than any should ever be punished."
The anchor first visited the country as a reporter in the 1990s before spending a month covering the 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which devastated the country eight years ago this week. The quake left 1.5 million people homeless and repairs continues to this day.
Mr Cooper said: “Let me be clear: the people of Haiti have been through more... they’ve been through more, they’ve withstood more, they’ve fought back against more injustice than our president ever has.”
Haitians “stand tall and they have dignity,” he said, adding: “It’s a dignity many in this White House could learn from. It’s a dignity the President, with all his money and all his power, could learn from as well.”
He fought back tears as he recalled witnessing the rescue of a five-year-old boy who had been buried under rubble for a week.
“Do you know what strength it takes to survive on rainwater, buried under concrete?” he asked
The host signed off by telling Haitians he hopes they know “our thoughts are with them, and our love as well.”