WASHINGTON - After talking on the phone with US President Donald Trump on Thursday morning, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin was optimistic that a compromise deal with some Republicans to protect young "Dreamer" immigrants was on the verge of success.
Less than three hours later, Durbin and a Republican colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham, drove away from the White House with the deal in pieces and a controversy over offensive language about to reverberate worldwide.
At their Oval Office meeting, two sources said, Trump questioned the value of taking immigrants from Haiti and African nations, and referred to them as "sh*thole countries." The remarks leaked out, transforming a debate about saving from deportation some 700,000 young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children into another drama about Trump himself.
His comments drew a chorus of condemnation inside the United States and internationally, especially in Africa.
Nearly a year into Trump's presidency, members of Congress are still struggling to relate to the unorthodox Trump and his spontaneous, often crude remarks.
In a tweet on Friday, Trump denied using the word "sh*thole," but Durbin insisted that the president had indeed said it.