President Donald Trump told The Wall Street Journal last week the Boy Scouts of America were “very thankful” for his politically charged remarks at the group’s national summit, despite pushback from parents and former scouts, and an eventual apology from the head of the organization. The Boy Scouts later denied Trump’s claim, saying they are not aware of anyone from the organization calling the president to discuss his comments.
“There was no mix there,” Trump said. “That was a standing ovation from the time I walked out to the time I left, and for five minutes after I had already gone. There was no mix.”
He continued: “And 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. So there was ― there was no mix.”
The Boy Scouts later disputed Trump’s account, and the group said it is unaware of any such call to the White House.
“The Chief Scout Executive’s message to the Scouting community speaks for itself,” the organization said in a statement to Time, referring to Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh’s apology.
Trump, speaking at the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree the day before the interview with the Post, veered from prepared remarks to pressure Senate Republicans to pass an Obamacare repeal bill, criticized the “fake news” media, and reveled in his defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Trump’s fiery political rhetoric received intense backlash, and ultimately prompted the apology from Surbaugh.
“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,” Surbaugh wrote. “That was never our intent.”
When asked whether the president himself should issue an apology to the scouting organization, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dodged.
“I was at that event and I saw nothing but roughly 40 to 45,000 Boy Scouts cheering the president on throughout his remarks, and I think they were pretty excited that he was there and happy to hear him speak to them,” Sanders said last week.
And at Wednesday’s press briefing, a reporter asked Sanders if Trump had lied about his conversation with the Boy Scouts official. Sanders said the president did not actually speak with Surbaugh over the phone, but that she “wouldn’t say it was a lie.”
Trump had “multiple conversations with members of Boy Scouts leadership” following his speech, Sanders said, adding that those officials “congratulated him, praised him and offered quite powerful compliments.”
“The conversations took place, they just simply didn’t take place over a phone call,” she said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the transcript was published on Monday.
This story has been updated to include the Boy Scouts’ response and new comments from Sanders.