MSNBC anchor Ayman Mohyeldin took to Twitter to defend himself minutes after a Monday segment in which his colleague, NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O’Donnell, rebuked him on-air over his description of President Donald Trump’s immigration views.
Prior to introducing O’Donnell during a Monday morning MSNBC segment, Mohyeldin noted that Acting Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli had just announced a new policy to make it harder for low-income immigrants to secure permanent residency in the U.S.
“We know President Trump proposed this update last year, according to our own reporting,” the MSNBC host said to O’Donnell. “According to the former Homeland Security secretary, it’s designed to promote immigrant self-sufficiency to ensure they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”
“We know the president has always had a preference for immigrants from Nordic countries,” Mohyeldin added. “He’s made that very clear as opposed to other more disadvantaged countries. Walk us through the impact on these immigrants. Why now?”
While Mohyeldin was referencing President Trump’s infamous “shithole countries” remarks to lawmakers last year in which the president reportedly suggested America should bring in more immigrants from Norway, O’Donnell immediately pushed back on the anchor’s interpretation of Trump’s position.
“I don’t know that the president has expressed a preference for Nordic countries,” she replied. “That is something where I’m not sure where you’re getting that from. He certainly said he has an emphasis on merit-based immigration. And he has talked about that extensively. So that matches up to his rhetoric.”
Mohyeldin, meanwhile, didn’t offer a retort or explanation during the segment, instead moving on to Cuccinelli’s press briefing. He did, however, respond on Twitter moments later. After Tom Colicchio tweeted that Mohyeldin was correct, the MSNBC anchor thanked the celebrity chef while seemingly tossing a little shade at his colleague.
“There have been so many disparaging comments made about immigrants by this President, it’s understandable why this would have been forgotten,” Mohyeldin tweeted.
O’Donnell, however, still did not accept the fact that Trump’s heavily reported “shithole” remark suggested he wants more immigrants from Norway and fewer from places like Haiti and the African continent.
“Of course I know the reference but there is a difference between something said in private meeting and today’s actual public policy proposal,” she wrote on Twitter after Colicchio highlighted Trump’s comments. “I try to stick to what we can report and not a flip comment.”
O’Donnell later found herself on the receiving end of online criticism for seeming to pretend she didn’t know why Mohyeldin referenced Nordic countries. Esquire’s Charles Pierce linked to NBC reporting on Trump’s “shithole” quote, noting that O’Donnell’s “own network is here to help.”