White House: Trump did not lie about phone call from Boy Scouts

The White House on Wednesday pushed back on accusations from reporters that President Trump lied about recent phone calls he said he received from the Mexican president and the leader of the Boy Scouts.

Trump said recently that he received a phone call from Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto praising his policies cracking down on illegal immigration into the U.S. The president also said the leader of the Boy Scouts of America called him to say he gave “the greatest speech” the organization ever heard at its national gathering last week. But both leaders have denied calling the president to praise him.

“Why did the president say that he received a phone call from the leader of the Boy Scouts and the president of Mexico when he did not?” a reporter asked press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “Did he lie?”

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Sanders said that Trump misspoke on both counts — that he did not receive phone calls but rather had personal conversations with the leaders.

In regards to Mexico, Sanders said Trump was referring to a personal conversation from last month’s Group of 20 summit.

On the Boy Scouts, Sanders said Trump did not hear from the president directly, but rather that he had heard from “multiple members of Boy Scout leadership” who offered him “quite powerful compliments.”

“So he lied,” the reporter shot back.

“It wasn't a lie. That's a pretty bold accusation,” Sanders responded. “The conversations took place. They just simply didn't take place over a phone call. He had them in person.”

Mexico is denying that its president called Trump to compliment the White House's immigration policy and said Peña Nieto has not contacted Trump in weeks.

But at a Cabinet meeting earlier this week, Trump said that “even the president of Mexico called me” to praise his immigration policy.

"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.

Meanwhile, Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last week that the head of the Boy Scouts had called him to thank him for a speech last week that generated controversy.

“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 said in the interview.

Michael Surbaugh, leader of the Boy Scouts of America, apologized after Trump attacked his political enemies in a speech to the national gathering of Boy Scouts, saying that the group "sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program."

Sanders was also asked on Wednesday whether there are “circumstances where it's appropriate to lie from the podium.”

“Absolutely not,” she said. “I don't think it's appropriate to lie from the podium or any other place. ... My job is to communicate the president's agenda, the president's message and answer your questions on that as best that I can, as honestly as I can, and be as transparent as I can possibly be at any given moment.”