Mexico has rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto complimented Trump’s border policies, stating Wednesday that the purported phone call in which Trump said he was praised never took place.
Trump made the comments on Monday while speaking glowingly of the work that new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had done in his former role as secretary of homeland security.
“Even the president of Mexico called me. They said their southern border, very few people are coming because they know they’re not going to get through our border, which is the ultimate compliment,” Trump said Monday.
Mexico’s foreign affairs ministry issued a statement on Wednesday denying that such a call ever happened and declaring that the two leaders had no recent communications by phone.
Asked about the contradictory accounts during a press briefing later that day, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump was actually referring to a meeting during the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, last month.
“I wouldn’t say it was a lie,” Sanders said.
Trump and Peña Nieto did meet at the G-20 summit, but Mexico has also characterized that conversation in very different terms.
The dispute over the alleged call between the two presidents comes close on the heels of another controversy surrounding Trump’s potentially phantom communications. A transcript of Trump’s July 25 interview with The Wall Street Journal revealed on Tuesday that the president had claimed the leader of the Boy Scouts of America called to congratulate him on a speech he gave last month at the Boy Scouts jamboree.
“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.
The Boy Scouts of America said Tuesday that it was not aware of any such call, leading Sanders on Wednesday to say that the conversation was real but it too didn’t take place over the phone.
Trump’s speech to the Boy Scouts was a politically charged diatribe that included jabs at Democrats and former President Barack Obama, as well as a story about an acquaintance who sailed yachts in the south of France whom Trump later ran into at a party that had “the hottest people in New York.”
Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh apologized for Trump’s speech days after the address, saying in a letter, “I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree.”