White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that two phone calls President Trump spoke publicly about receiving — from the head of the Boy Scouts and the president of Mexico — were not fabricated but instead took place in person.
“The conversations took place,” Sanders told reporters at a White House briefing. “They just simply didn’t take place over a phone call. . . . He had them in person.”
Both Trump claims of phone calls had been disputed in recent days by the other parties involved.
Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week that he had received a call after his July 24 appearance at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, where his speech drew heavy criticism because it was laced with political rhetoric.
“I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful,” Trump told the Journal, according to a transcript obtained and published by Politico.
An official with the Scouts said Wednesday that the organization was not aware of such a phone call. Last week, Michael Surbaugh, the chief scout executive of the Boy Scouts, wrote to parents that he “regrets that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.”
Sanders told reporters Wednesday that Trump was referring to in-person conversations with “multiple members of the Boy Scout leadership, following his speech there that day,” who she said “congratulated him, praised him and offered quite powerful compliments following his speech."
In a separate episode, Trump on Monday spoke of a call from Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto after swearing in his new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, who previously served as secretary of homeland security.
“Even the president of Mexico called me,” Trump said with reporters present in the Oval Office. “Their southern border, they said very few people are coming because they know they're not going to get to our border, which is the ultimate compliment.”
A statement issued later by the Mexican president’s office disputed that account, saying: “President Enrique Peña Nieto has not had any recent telephone communication with President Donald Trump.”
Sanders told reporters Wednesday that Trump was referring to an in-person conversation with the Mexican president that took place last month at the Group of 20 Summit in Hamburg.
“On Mexico, he was referencing the conversation that they had had at the G-20 Summit, where they specifically talked about the issues that he referenced,” Sanders said.
She was pressed by a reporter about whether Trump had lied.
“I wouldn’t say it was a lie,” Sanders said. “That’s a pretty bold accusation.”