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President Trump on Friday insisted on Twitter he didn’t call places like Africa, El Salvador, and Haiti “shitholes” during an immigration conversation with lawmakers, after intense criticism that his remarks were racist.

Oddly, shortly after it was revealed on Thursday he made the comments, a White House spokesman didn’t deny he used the word “shitholes.”

Trump claimed it was “not the language used” during a confusing Twitter rant on Friday morning.

“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!” he said.

Trump reportedly made the comments while lawmakers were discussing restoring temporary protection status for immigrants, such as those from El Salvador, who had their status removed this week.

The Trump administration has been discussing the possibility of a deal on the immigration status of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, as well as increased security at the border.

Trump has said a deal that does not include funding for a wall along the southern border would be rejected.

There were reports of a tentative deal reached between Republicans and Democrats on Thursday evening, which would fund President Trump’s promised border wall while allowing hundreds of thousands of undocumented people to remain in the country.

But Trump on Friday morning blasted the deal as a “big step backwards” in a series of confusing tweets.

Meanwhile, a United Nations human rights spokesperson said on Friday morning that the comment could “potentially damage and disrupt the lives of many people”.

“If confirmed, these are shocking and shameful comments from the president of the United States. I’m sorry but there is no other word for this but racist,” Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.

“You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes,'” he said, adding that the comment “legitimizes the targeting of people based on who they are.”

“This isn’t just a story about vulgar language, it’s about opening the door to humanity’s worst side,” he said.

In Botswana, the government summoned the US Ambassador to “express its displeasure” at the comments.

“The Botswana Government has also enquired from the US Government through the Ambassador to clarify if Botswana is regarded as a ‘shithole’ country given that there are Botswana nationals residing in the US, and also that some of Batswana may wish to visit the US,” read a press release published on Friday.

Cora Lewis is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Lewis reports on labor.

Contact Cora Lewis at [email protected].

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