Skip to main content

Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen chides President Trump for calling African, Haitian nations 'shitholes'

The president sparked fury with his comments on Thursday.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

Fearful of his base, all but a handful of Republican politicians have been careful not to publicly criticize President Trump too often since his election.

But the president's remarks made during a bipartisan meeting with senators on Thursday appears to have been a step too far for 3rd Congressional District Rep. Erik Paulsen.

The president reportedly asked why America was offering protection to immigrants from "those shithole countries" – including African nations, Haiti and El Salvador – adding that the U.S. should have more people coming in from places like Norway," the Washington Post reports.

On Thursday evening, Paulsen called on the White House to apologize for what he called "degrading comments."

Paulsen's fellow Minnesota Republican House delegation members, Reps. Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis, have not made a comment on Trump's remarks.

Unsurprisingly, there has been plenty of reaction from Democrats in Minnesota, including new Minnesota Senator Tina Smith.

St. Paul mayor Melvin Carter also had his say, as did state Rep. Ilhan Omar, herself a refugee from Somalia.

'The president of the United States is racist'

As much as the vulgarity is grabbing the headlines, the president's preference for immigrants from "Norway" – a predominantly white nation – adds to the weight of racially-charged statements made by Trump.

Many are now openly calling the president a racist. 

"If confirmed these are shocking and shameful comments from the President of the United States," Rupert Coleville, a spokesman for the United Nations, told the Independent.

"There is no other word you can use but 'racist'."

"This isn't just a story about vulgar language, it's about opening the door to humanity's worst side, about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia."

On CNN Thursday night, host Don Lemon started his broadcast with: "The president of the United States is racist. A lot of us already knew that."

"For years I and others have been trying to tell you the American people that this man was exhibiting bigoted behavior," he continued. "I asked him about it a number of times but he denied it, and kept up the racist rhetoric and behavior throughout the campaign and now, well he's in the White House."

The president denies it

Initially, in response to reports about his "shithole" comment, White House spokesman Raj Shah did not deny it when asked by NBC News: "Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people.

But on Friday morning, Trump issued a denial, saying he used "tough language" but "this was not the language used." 

In any case, multiple senators – including Democrats – heard him make the "shithole" comment at the meeting.

A White House official also told CNN that Trump's comments are being received differently inside the White House than outside of it, with staffers predicting the comment "will resonate with his base" in the same way his attacks on (black) NFL players did for their National Anthem protests against police brutality.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 9.38.30 AM

St. Paul featured on Hallmark Channel's 'Christmas Cam' livestream

Downtown's dazzling display can be viewed from anywhere in the world.


Charges: Drunk driver almost struck Bemidji parade spectators

The man told police he was trying to attend the parade himself.


The SCHEELS Experience

Whether looking for reliable hunting and fishing gear or new clothing and shoes, Eden Prairie SCHEELS is a one-stop shopping experience for the whole family.


Charges: Man fatally shot ex's new partner as he dined at Bloomington restaurant

Criminal charges filed Monday detail an alleged motive in the shooting.


Metallica to perform 2 nights in Minneapolis on 2023-24 World Tour

The heavy metal rock band returns to the state for the first time since 2018.

snow, plow

Tuesday storm to dump plowable snow in Minnesota

Snow should reach the Twin Cities Tuesday morning and fall throughout the day.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 6.57.31 AM

Police: Drunk-driver almost struck people watching parade in Bemidji

The man was arrested for DWI charges following the incident.

police tape

3 at trauma centers in critical condition after rural MN attack

Two victims and the alleged attacker are in critical condition.

grinch neighbor

Neighborhood 'grinch' sends letter to Burnsville family over holiday lights

A Burnsville family's holiday decorations were the subject of an anonymous complaint.


Anthropologie shutters Grand Avenue store, opening planned for Rosedale Center

The popular holiday shopping weekend marked the last for customers of the Grand Avenue store.

hospital, emergency room

Woman found on side of highway after hit-and-run

The 41-year-old was airlifted to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.


President Trump endorses Erik Paulsen, but Paulsen's not happy

The 3rd District Representative has been trying to distance himself from the president.

Paulsen: Trump's Putin performance 'embarrassing' and 'dangerous'

The Republican congressman was highly critical of the president's press conference.

What Minnesota lawmakers thought of President Trump's address

What Minnesota's U.S. representatives and senators had to say about the president's speech.

President Trump says 'too bad' to election loser Erik Paulsen

Trump also praised Pete Stauber for winning the Minnesota 8th.

Reps. Angie Craig, Dean Phillips join calls for Trump impeachment inquiry

The president is under pressure for a phone call with Ukrainian officials.

Rep. Ilhan Omar

Rep. Ilhan Omar says President Trump should be impeached, again

The Minnesota representative says she is drawing up articles of impeachment.