Boy Scout leaders deny President Donald Trump's claim that he called them to praise his jamboree speech




  • In World/Asia
  • 2017-08-02 21:07:14Z
  • By The Telegraph

The Boy Scouts have denied calling President Donald Trump to praise his controversial speech at their annual jamboree last week, directly contradicting the president's version of events.

Mr Trump, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, claimed that he had received a phone call praising the July 24 speech.

"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," he said, in a full transcript of the interview obtained by Politico.

The WSJ did not publish it in its entirety.

The Boy Scouts said they did not call Mr Trump to commend him on the remarks.

"We are unaware of any such call," the Boy Scouts responded in a statement.

It specified that neither of the organisation's two top leaders - President Randall Stephenson and Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh - had placed such a call.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House spokesman, said Boy Scout leaders had praised Mr Trump in person after his speech.

She said the president was making reference to "multiple members of the Boy Scout leadership" who "congratulated him, praised him and offered quite powerful compliments following his speech".

Mr Trump said in the WSJ interview that the 40,000 Boy Scouts and their leaders "loved it", despite Mr Surbaugh apologising for his speech the next day.

Told that reaction to the eyebrow-raising, politically aggressive speech was "mixed", the president defended his remarks.

"By the way, I'd be the first to admit mixed. I'm a guy that will tell you mixed. There was no mix there," he 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."

Other US presidents have delivered nonpolitical speeches at past jamborees.

Yet last week, to the dismay of many parents and former scouts, Mr Trump promoted his political agenda and derided his rivals, inducing some of the scouts in attendance to boo at the mention of former President Barack Obama.

"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," said Mr Surbaugh. "That was never our intent."

Mr Surbaugh noted that every sitting president since 1937 has been invited to visit the jamboree.

Mr Stephenson told The Associated Press two days after the speech that Boy Scout leaders anticipated Mr Trump would spark controversy with politically tinged remarks, yet felt obliged to invite him out of respect for his office.

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