Republicans Have a New Strategy for Trump’s “Shithole”: Play Dumb

But voters don’t seem to be buying it.

It would be a difficult task for any Republican to defend President Donald Trump amid the intense backlash over his recent remarks referring to African nations as “shitholes.”

But while most Republicans have remained silent on the controversy, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) on Sunday fumbled into an awkward defense of the president when she offered Norway as an example of a country Trump is standing up for.

“He is standing up for a lot of the countries that where we have seen some…” Ernst said in response to a woman’s criticism that Trump is causing damage to American allies with his “white supremacy talk.”

“Could you name a few?” one audience member asked.

 “Yeah, you bet,” Ernst said. “Norway is one them.” (During the same immigration meeting, Trump reportedly asked why the United States doesn’t have more immigrants from countries such as Norway.)

The room erupted in laughter.

“You know you laugh, but folks, who borders Norway? Russia!” Ernst continued.

On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen—who was in the room during Trump’s reported “shithole” remarks last week—testified under oath that she did not know if Norway was a predominantly white country. She also claimed that the president was referencing a merit-based immigration system.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J) slammed Nielsen for telling senators that she did not hear Trump use the word “shithole” as widely reported and confirmed by lawmakers in the room last week. “Your silence and your amnesia is complicity,” Booker said.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest