California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Monday that he never called President Trump “one of the smartest people I’ve ever met,” as Trump claimed during a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Newsom, who has publicly clashed with Trump over issues such as immigration policy, climate change and high-speed rail, said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Trump had mischaracterized a conversation between the two during his wide-ranging speech earlier this month.
“You can’t make this up, Anderson,” Newsom said, explaining that he called Trump to express his appreciation for the president’s visit to wildfire-ravaged Butte County last year.
“Somehow, that got conflated,” Newsom said. “I think we hear what we want to hear. So no, I can’t ‘admit’ to what I said to the president privately, because that’s not what I said.”
In his CPAC speech, which stretched on for more than two hours, Trump claimed that Newsom called him up and lavished praise on him.
“He called me up the other day, recently — let’s say four weeks ago or so. He said, ‘I just want to tell you you’re a great president, and you’re one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.’ That’s what he said. Now, that’s what he said. Will he admit it? No, I doubt it. But that’s what he said,” Trump told the crowd.