A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Video: Durbin’s ‘History’ of Distortions


In this week’s fact-checking video, CNN’s Jake Tapper examines efforts by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue to discredit Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin’s account of President Trump using profanity to disparage African countries at an immigration meeting in the Oval Office. They said Durbin has a “history” of misrepresenting what was said at White House meetings.

As we wrote, they are referring to a 2013 Facebook post in which Durbin wrongly claimed a GOP leader had told then-President Barack Obama, “I can’t even stand to look at you.”

But there’s more to that story than Cotton and Perdue presented, and there’s a big difference between what happened then and now.

Durbin was not in the 2013 White House meeting. Rather, he shared a secondhand report he received from White House staffers that turned out to be inaccurate. The White House press secretary at the time said the misquote resulted from a “miscommunication in the readout of that meeting between the White House and Senate Democrats.”

This time, Durbin provided a firsthand account of what he heard at the Jan. 11 meeting. Durbin and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham were at the White House to discuss their bipartisan plan to save an Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which Trump is phasing out. A day after the meeting, Durbin quoted Trump as saying of African nations, “‘Those shitholes send us the people that they don’t want.’”

The video about the claim by Sens. Cotton and Perdue, which can be found on CNN’s website, is part of our fact-checking collaboration with CNN’s “State of the Union.” Previous videos can be found on our website.