White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday was forced to admit that the complimentary phone calls President Trump boasted about receiving from the head of the Boy Scouts and from Mexico’s president never actually happened.
Both the Boy Scouts of America and Mexico had previously denied making such calls. Sanders stopped short, however, of saying the president had fabricated the conversations, claiming instead that they took place in person at last month’s G-20 summit in Germany and with individual Boy Scout leaders.
“They were actually direct — they were direct conversations, not actual phone calls,” Sanders said at the White House press briefing.
Asked if the president lied about the calls, Sanders replied: “I wouldn’t say he lied. That’s a pretty bold accusation.”
In a transcript of a Wall Street Journal interview published by Politico Tuesday, Trump clearly stated that he “got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts” saying the president’s politically charged — and widely panned — address at last month’s Boy Scouts’ Jamboree was “the greatest speech that was ever made to them.”
The claim came in response to the reporter’s suggestion that the reaction to the speech was “mixed.”
“They loved it. It wasn’t — it was no mix,” the president insisted. “That was a standing ovation from the time I walked out to the time I left, and for five minutes after I had already gone. There was no mix.”
Sanders said Wednesday that the president was referring to “multiple members of the Boy Scout leadership” who “congratulated him, praised him, and offered quite powerful compliments” immediately following his speech in West Virginia. (Michael Surbaugh, the Chief Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America, later issued an apology for the political nature of the speech.)
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Trump also told the Journal that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called him about the United States’ border policies, a claim the Mexican Foreign Ministry promptly rejected.
The ministry’s statement did acknowledge that Peña Nieto told Trump at the G-20 summit that “repatriations of Mexican nationals from the United States had fallen 31 per cent between January and June 2017 in comparison to the same timeframe in 2016,” according to CBS.