President Donald Trump has said he was “totally misrepresented” by those saying he used the term “shithole” to describe African nations last week.
Mr Trump also said the allegation was hurting efforts to strike a deal to protect so-called Dreamer immigrants.
The president was responding to a claim by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin that he used “vile and racist” language during a meeting on immigration reform.
The alleged remarks sparked global outrage and demands that he apologise.
“There is no other word one can use but racist,” said a UN spokesman.
On Monday, two senators who said he did indeed use the disparaging remark stood by their account of what took place.