Donald Trump walked out of a photo call to shouts of “Mr President, are you a racist?” from reporters, amid a growing storm over allegations he referred to Haiti and several African nations as “s***hole countries”.
The President was signing a proclamation honouring Martin Luther King Jr Day in the Oval Office, alongside Vice President Mike Pence and several members of Congress.
As Mr Trump got up to leave the room after the signing, several members of the press asked for him to comment on the allegations in the Washington Post that he had asked why the US should accept more immigrants from Haiti and “s***hole countries” in Africa, rather than nations like Norway.
One reporter asked: "Mr President, will you give an apology for the statement yesterday?", before another said: "Mr President, did you refer to African nations as s***holes?"
As the leader walked out of the room, another shouted: "Mr President, are you a racist?"
Mr Trump, who is known for his confrontational style when dealing with journalists questioning his comments, policies or his record, appeared to ignore the reporters and left the room without responding to any of the questions.
Mr Trump allegedly made the comments in a meeting with US senators on Thursday to discuss the status of people subjected to the DACA scheme – known as "Dreamers" – who came to the country illegally as children and were given protection from deportation by former president, Barack Obama.
He had announced he was ending this protection last year but the move was blocked by a federal judge on Tuesday. In the meeting, a bipartisan group of senators proposed a compromise which Mr Trump rejected.
The Republican denied making the comments in the meeting, saying he used "tough language" but suggested had not referred to the countries as "s***holes".
The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
The comments have attracted a furore among the international community with the Haitian ambassador to the US formally asking that a US official explain the remarks.
A senator present at the meeting subsequently insisted Mr Trump had used the term "s***holes" repeatedly, adding: “In the course of his comments he said things that were hate-filled, vile and racist ... I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday."