The President of the United States was forced to insist he is 'not a racist' after a a foul-mouthed rant about Haiti and African immigrants was attributed to him.
Donald Trump was asked about the issue arriving dinner at his private golf club with the House majority leader Kevin McCarthy of California on Sunday.
'No, No. I am not a racist,' he said. 'I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you,' he told reporters.
Trump is accused of using the word 's***hole' to describe African countries in a meeting about immigration reform. 'Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They're s***hole countries ... We should have more people from Norway,' he is alleged to have said.
Trump denied he made those comments but refused to clarify what he did say.
The spotlight was also put on his evangelical supporters who were split as to whether to defend him or not. The Republican won 80 per cent of the white evangelical vote in the 2016 election but recent polls show that support is weakening, with 61 per cent approving of his job performance, compared with 78 per cent last February, according to the Pew Research Center.
Johnnie Moore, a public relations executive for many of Trump's nominal evangelical advisers, said the alleged remarks were 'absolutely suspect and politicized'.
Jerry Falwell Jnr, President of the evangelical Liberty University and one of Trump's most dogged supporters, was among a handful to openly defend him.
'Complaining about the temperament of the @POTUS or saying his behavior is not presidential is no longer relevant,' he tweeted. '@realDonaldTrump has single-handedly changed the definition of what behavior is "presidential" from phony, failed & rehearsed to authentic, successful & down to earth.'
Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, said apart from his choice of words, 'Trump is right on target in his policy,' by putting the needs of the US above those of other countries.
In comments endorsed by another key evangelical Trump supporter, Eric Mataxas, Michael Brown said it was important to be critical when Trump said things that were wrong but also stress there was a lot more to 'voice our approval' than to criticise.
'We don't need to parse his words, let alone defend them. We need to show integrity,' he said. 'Once we've done that, we can say, "What's amazing is that the media looked the other way when so-and-so said such-and-such," exposing their hypocrisy and agenda. And then we can say, "Where I think the President has a valid point (assuming there is one), is here."'
However others were less forgiving.
Members of the Evangelical Environment Network said they were 'appalled at the vulgarity' of Trump's comments.
'The remarks were made even more troubling by the suggestion that Norwegians somehow make for better immigrants,' a statement read. 'The comparison between Africa, Haiti, and Norway can only be taken as a judgment based on the color of one's skin. This base calculus is repugnant, and is in no way consistent with our biblical values or our national goals. Mr Trump's words are literally a profaning of the inherent dignity of each human being and a profaning of Scripture.'
Pastor Earon James of Relevant Life Church in Pace, Florida, also rebuked Trump's supporters and tweeted: 'Your pro-life argument rings hollow if you don't have an issue with this xenophobic bigotry.'
However many evangelical leaders such as Franklin Graham, who have previously rushed to defend Trump over crisis such as his handling of the neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville, remained silent and declined to defend Trump.