Trump commemorates Martin Luther King Day after “shithole” comments

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Updated Jan 12, 2018 12:11 PM EST

President Trump is signing a Martin Luther King Jr. Day proclamation at the White House Friday, amid furious fallout from comments he made Thursday about “sh*thole countries.”

The president praised Martin Luther King Jr. for standing up for the rights of African-Americans, and emphasized the importance of equality.

“Today we celebrate Dr. King for standing up for the self-evident truth Americans hold so dear, that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God,” Mr. Trump said. 

The comments stood in jarring contrast to the president’s previous remarks made to members of Congress during an immigration meeting Thursday, when he asked why the U.S. accepts people from “sh*thole countries.” Virtually all other focus in Washington has been set aside, amid the fallout from those remarks. 

“Why are we having all these people from sh*thole countries come here?” the president said in the Thursday afternoon Oval Office meeting with a handful of members of the House and Senate. “We should bring in more people from places like Norway,” he added. Norway’s prime minister visited the White House Wednesday. The Trump administration recently decided to soon end Temporary Protected Status for citizens of countries like Haiti and El Salvador, who came to the U.S. to escape natural disasters.

Ironically, Friday marks the eighth anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, in addition to MLK Jr. Day. 

Mr. Trump denied the comments on Twitter Friday morning, although his staff did not deny the comments when they were first reported. Republicans present are also not denying the remarks. 

At the MLK Day event, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson also spoke of the importance of equality.

“If we look upon our countrymen as brothers… we will truly create one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” Carson said. 

The president ignored all shouted questions from reporters, including: “Mr. President are you a racist?”

The MLK Day signing was already scheduled for Friday, along with the president’s first annual physical at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, but the White House decided not to hold the daily press briefing before Mr. Trump takes off for Palm Beach, Florida, Friday night.

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