Earlier this week, Donald Trump claimed that Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto called him to compliment him on his immigration policies. The only problem with that, is, as the Associated Press reported, Mexico says it never happened.
“As you know, the border was a tremendous problem and they’re close to 80 percent stoppage,” Trump said on Monday. “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.”
Both Mexican and American officials told the AP that no such call had ever happened.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about the president’s claims, and Mexico’s denials, on Wednesday.
“He was referencing the conversation that they had at the G20 summit where they specifically talked about the issues that he referenced,” she said in response to a reporter’s question, calling the correspondence “direct conversations, not actual phone calls.”
When asked if that means the President of the United States of America lied about a phone call, she added, “I wouldn’t say it was a lie. That’s a pretty bold accusation. It’s – the conversations took place; they just simply did not take place over a phone call. He had them in person.”
The two did indeed meet in-person last month for a “direct conversation” at the G20 Summit. There, they discussed “advances in migration, security and economic development,” according to a tweet by the Mexican president.
“We will establish a respectful dialogue with the government of President @realDonaldTrump, for the benefit of Mexico,” the Mexican president also tweeted in Spanish from G20.
The AP reported that Peña Nieto “cited statistics about migration from Central American to Mexico declining significantly” during the meeting. But–just so the record’s straight–he did not apparently compliment Trump for this. Nor did he call Trump later.
The call-that-never-was has, apparently, has caused some trouble for the Mexican president. From the AP:
The suggestion [that Peña Nieto did call Trump] became an issue, however, as Mexican opposition legislators jumped on Trump’s account and complained about what sounded like a “secret phone call” between the pair, and the idea of Pena Nieto praising Trump on migration. Mexico has officially opposed many of Trump’s initiatives, including his claim that Mexico would pay for a border wall.
The current Mexican president and former president Vicente Fox have both said earlier this year that Mexico will not be paying for the wall, though since then, Trump and Pena Nieto reportedly promised to figure out the wall payment details privately.
So add Peña Nieto to the list of people Donald Trump has claimed called him to compliment him, who claim they didn’t actually call him, and didn’t actually compliment him.
Also on that list? The Boy Scouts, though for what it’s worth, Sanders addressed that claim at the Wednesday White House news briefing too.
“Multiple members of the Boy Scout leadership following his speech there that day congratulated him, praised him, and offered quite – I’m looking for the word–powerful compliments following his speech,” she explained, without naming any names.