LONDON — President Trump said Wednesday that his widely criticized meeting with the parents of British teen Harry Dunn was “beautiful.” But, for the two parents grieving the loss of their son in a car crash, their time at the White House was more of an “ambush” in which they quickly became “rabbits in the headlights,” according to their spokesman, Radd Seiger.

“It didn’t feel beautiful,” Seiger told CNN’s "Anderson Cooper Full Circle” program as he recalled Tuesday’s controversial meeting between Dunn’s parents and Trump. “The word circus came to mind. We were just the actors there,” Seiger said.

Seiger recalled that after Trump offered the family his condolences, he quickly dropped the bombshell that Anne Sacoolas — the American woman whose car struck their son, British police say — was willing to meet and was in the next room. Seiger told Cooper he shot down the idea, saying: “No, Mr. President, that’s not why we’re here."

President Trump addressed his Oct. 15 meeting with the parents of Harry Dunn, a British teenager who was killed in a car crash involving an American. (The Washington Post)

He said he explained to Trump that the circumstances were not appropriate. “If we ever do this, it’s going to be in England when she [Sacoolas] is going through the court system,” Seiger added.

Dunn, 19, was killed in August when his motorcycle was struck by a car that police say was driven by Sacoolas, 42, who has acknowledged that she was driving on the wrong side of the road at the time of the crash. Sacoolas, as the wife of a U.S. government official, claimed diplomatic immunity under international law and returned to the United States a few weeks later.

Harry Dunn’s parents, Tim Dunn and Charlotte Charles, told CBS that the meeting took their breath away. Not only was the president of the United States proposing they meet with Sacoolas, but Trump wanted the meeting to happen there and then — unplanned and thrust upon them.

Trump said Wednesday that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked him to set up the meeting. But on Thursday, a spokesperson for Johnson contradicted Trump’s claim, saying: “The PM and the president spoke last Wednesday, and the PM asked the president to do all he could to resolve the issue.”

“During the conversation, the president raised a possibility of a meeting with Anne Sacoolas at the White House, but at that stage we weren’t aware of any plans for the family to go [to the United States] so it wasn’t discussed further.”

Speaking to Fox News on Thursday, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley defended the president’s actions. Trump “wasn’t trying to ambush anybody,” said Gidley, who also reiterated Trump’s claim that the meeting took place “at the behest of Boris Johnson.”

While Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn have long expressed desire to meet with Sacoolas, they have maintained that they want any meeting to take place on British soil with trained mental health experts on hand to help both sides come to terms with the situation.

Dunn’s parents said Trump asked them repeatedly during the meeting if they would meet with Sacoolas even though they had already declined the offer.