In his latest move, President Donald Trump denied the existence of a White House official to push his Fake News narrative.
On Friday, the New York Times published a story quoting a White House official as saying that it was impossible that a previously canceled summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un will be back on.
The summit, scheduled for June 12, had been canceled in a dramatic letter Trump wrote to Kim. However, Trump had insisted a day after the cancellation that the summit will be back on, as North Korea “really” wanted to do it, and even the U.S. would like to get it done.
We are having very productive talks with North Korea about reinstating the Summit which, if it does happen, will likely remain in Singapore on the same date, June 12th., and, if necessary, will be extended beyond that date.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2018
A report from the New York Times contradicted this stance with the following statement.
“As with so many issues involving this president, the views of his aides often have little effect on what he actually says. On Thursday, for example, a senior White House official told reporters that even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed.”
In a tweet, Trump ripped The Times apart for creating a White House official out of thin air.
The Failing @nytimes quotes “a senior White House official,” who doesn’t exist, as saying “even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed.” WRONG AGAIN! Use real people, not phony sources.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2018
However, it turns out that despite Trump’s tweet to the contrary, the man is a fully realized human being, with a family and hopes and dreams.
Several reporters on Twitter could not watch as the life of a human being they had interacted with was erased like this. The statement regarding the meeting was made during a background briefing conducted through conference call held by the White House for reporters.
As the briefing was on background and not for broadcast, the White House official could not be named by The Times. Even as several reporters confirmed his existence, they refrained from taking his name.
I mean, every reporter on the call knows who this official was, and this official exists. And we all heard the official say it. https://t.co/iEiTEpHeyb— Mike Warren (@MichaelRWarren) May 26, 2018
However, Yashar Ali, a New York Magazine and HuffPost writer, identified the official as Matthew Pottinger, the National Security Council senior director for Asian affairs.
The official is Matt Pottinger who serves on the National Security Council. He briefed dozens of reporters on background. https://t.co/5FUP7t8nYQ— Yashar Ali ?? (@yashar) May 26, 2018
Ali justified his action by saying that he was not on the conference call and not bound by the agreement. He also released an audio in which White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah referred to Pottinger as “senior White House official.”
In his statement, Pottinger can be heard hinting that the summit was unlikely, although he never explicitly said that it could not be held.
4. I've obtained audio of the WH press briefing. You can hear Raj Shah, Deputy Press Secretary, introduce Pottinger (along with the terms - which are standard) and then Pottinger makes the statement that POTUS says was never made. Lots of reporters in briefing room and on phone. pic.twitter.com/2gEYkRSyTv— Yashar Ali ?? (@yashar) May 26, 2018
As some reporters pointed out, the real issue here was White House’s insistence that the briefing be off record.
This is a good example of why, at pretty much every background briefing, you'll hear an AP reporter ask why it's being held on background/why it's not on record. https://t.co/EYkrUszieZ— Jill Colvin (@colvinj) May 26, 2018
Some urged the president to get a transcript of the briefing.
This is not the first time White House has denied a quote by Pottinger. Previously, WSJ had quoted Pottinger as saying that a military strike on North Korea would be a smart move. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had pushed back and tweeted in response.
Never happened. Pottinger is a Marine who served in two wars and doesn’t take military action lightly. Can’t believe @WSJ reporter didn’t reach out for a comment before repeating such a reckless accusation. https://t.co/B270jlqHUs— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) February 3, 2018
Thumbnail, Banner: Reuters, Kevin Lamarque