WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Donald Trump said Tuesday he wants immigrants who come from "everywhere," following reports last week that he disparaged immigrants from African countries and Haiti and welcomed more people from Norway.
Asked by CNN's Jim Acosta whether he said he wanted more people to come to the United States from Norway, Trump said, "We want them to come in from everywhere, everywhere."
Trump declined to answer further questions from reporters who were gathered for a brief photo opportunity as Trump met with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev in the Oval Office.
A person familiar with last week's bipartisan meeting where Trump reportedly made the initial remarks said Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham brought a plan to Trump that involved cutting the visa lottery in half and, at the behest of the Congressional Black Caucus, the rest would go to underrepresented countries in Africa and Temporary Protective Status nations, including Haiti. The person said the language was salty on both sides.
One person briefed on the Thursday meeting said when Durbin got to Haiti, Trump began to ask why we want people from Haiti and more Africans in the US and added that the US should get more people from countries like Norway.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, also present during last week's meeting, offered an explanation for the President's comments.
"I think the context of that conversation -- there was so much covered in that meeting. But part of the conversation was really focused on this merit-based concept," Nielsen told CBS Tuesday, adding, "So he had just met with the prime minister of Norway -- was very impressed with what she told him about successes that Norway has experienced. So he was just using that as an example of a place that accepts immigrants in part based on merit."