CHUCK TODD: All right, you question the credibility of the Democrats when they go into a meeting and they come out. I’ve got to ask you about the infamous meeting of 10 days ago. Did the president use a vulgarity?
SEN. TOM COTTON: Chuck, I’m not going to get into every word that was or was not said. I will say, as many people have said, Kirstjen Nielsen, under oath, a lot of strong language was used. I think it’s fair — that there was some cursing behind closed doors.
CHUCK TODD: Okay, why couldn’t you—
SEN. TOM COTTON: The point—
CHUCK TODD: —but what I don’t understand is in the first 48 hours that there was a controversy about whether was said, you implied it wasn’t said at all. And it made it seem as if you were accusing Dick Durbin of being a liar.
SEN. TOM COTTON: Here’s what—
CHUCK TODD: And Lindsey Graham of being a liar.
SEN. TOM COTTON: Here’s what was miss—
CHUCK TODD: Do you understand—
SEN. TOM COTTON: As far as I know Lindsey Graham hasn’t spoken on the record about this, Chuck. Here’s the point, that Senator Durbin represented that President Trump used repeatedly, repeatedly used, vile, racist, hateful language. That’s not the case. If it was, why didn’t he say anything? Why didn’t he slam his paper down and get up and walk out? What President Trump and others in that meeting expressed was astonishment that Senator Durbin and Senator Graham would bring a proposal that wouldn’t move us towards a skills-based system but move us towards a system in which we are rewarding people based on where they come from, not who they are. The whole point of immigration reform is to judge people as individuals, based on who they are and what they can contribute to our society. Not where they come from or who they’re related to.
CHUCK TODD: But to go back to this issue of sort of trust on both sides, you let it sort of hang out there that Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham were misleading the public completely. And only now are you admitting, “Well, yeah, there was some vulgarity used.” That isn’t what you said a week ago. That isn’t what you said 10 days ago at the time. Why?
SEN. TOM COTTON: Chuck, I’ve never denied that there wasn’t strong language used in the meeting by lots of people. I’m not a shrinking violet about these things. I’ve been in a command post overseas. I’ve heard some salty language before. What I’m saying is it is a gross misrepresentation—
CHUCK TODD: Were you offended? Lindsey Graham appears to be offended. He said he said his piece. Were you offended by what the president said?
SEN. TOM COTTON: I was not offended. And nobody in the meeting expressed their offense at any of the language—
CHUCK TODD: Lindsey Graham—
SEN. TOM COTTON: —that was being used.
CHUCK TODD: —didn’t make his piece?
SEN. TOM COTTON: Lindsey Graham made a case about immigration policy. He didn’t make a case about what the president was saying.
CHUCK TODD: He said that he said his piece about what American ideals are about. Did he do that or not?
SEN. TOM COTTON: Yes he did. And that’s part of immigration policies because immigration policy is a part of who we are, who we are going to bring to this country to become new American citizens.