White House admits two phone calls, claimed by Trump but disputed by others, were actually in-person conversations

US President Donald Trump reacts as he delivers remarks at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree.
US President Donald Trump reacts as he delivers remarks at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON - White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitted on Wednesday (July 2) that two phone calls President Donald Trump claimed publicly that he received from the head of the Boy Scouts and the president of Mexico, did not actually take place.

"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 parties whom Mr Trump named as having received calls from disputed the US President's description of events.

In a Wall Street Journal interview last week, Mr Trump said he had received a call after his July 24 speech at a national scouts jamboree in West Virginia, which had been criticised for being heavy on 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," Mr Trump told The Journal, based a transcript obtained and published by Politico.

An official with the Scouts has refuted Mr Trump's claim, saying on Wednesday that the organisation was not aware of such a phone call. The organisation had written to parents last week to apologise, saying it was regretful that "politics were inserted into the Scouting programme".

When asked on Wednesday, Ms Sanders told reporters that Mr 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,"' reported Washington Post.

Mr Trump also claimed on Monday that he received a call from Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto after the swearing-in of his new chief of staff, John Kelly, who was secretary of homeland security.

"Even the president of Mexico called me," Mr Trump told reporters 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."

Washington Post said the Mexican president's office later issued a statement, saying: "President Enrique Peña Nieto has not been in recent communication via telephone with President Donald Trump."

Ms Sanders later clarified that Mr Trump was referring to a face-to-face conversation he had with the Mexican president 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.

When asked by a reporter if Mr Trump lied, she said: "I wouldn't say it was a lie. That's a pretty bold accusation."