In a morning tweet that was quickly debunked by reporters – and even a former colleague of Pottinger – Trump wrote today, “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.”
Trump was referring to a Page 1 story in today’s New York Times about the possibility of a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Wrote the Times: “Twenty-four hours after announcing that he was calling off the meeting in a letter to Mr. Kim, the North’s leader, Mr. Trump told reporters that he and Mr. Kim might yet meet in Singapore on June 12.”
The Times story went on to say, as Trump correctly noted later, that “a senior White House official” told reporters on Thursday that a June 12 meeting would be “impossible.”
Related Video: Trump Leaves Door Open for NK Summit
After Trump tweeted this morning that the White House official “doesn’t exist,” reporters who either attended or knew of Thursday’s formal, on-background briefing by National Security Council member Pottinger informed Trump of his existence. Journalist Yashar Ali even posted a recording of Pottinger’s press briefing.
Tweeted The Times‘ Nicholas Kristof:
So President Trump denied the existence of a senior White House official, Matt Pottinger, who gave a formal briefing to journalists about the Korea summit. That's the kind of thing one expects in North Korea, not in the US.
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) May 26, 2018
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
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
i wasn’t at the briefing but can confirm that my former WSJ colleague Matt Pottinger is a real person who exists https://t.co/tpUIBPW8yv
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) May 26, 2018
The WH argument when POTUS contradicts official line is typically “Well we gave you the best info we had at the time.” But here POTUS said the official doesn’t exist and NYT made it up — that’s demonstrably false. Will WH admit that? I highly doubt it.
— Matthew Nussbaum (@MatthewNussbaum) May 26, 2018
To be clear, the White House sent out an official named Matt Pottinger to distribute information to the press, then claimed he was a phony source. The Trump administration should be considered hostile to the American people. They're barely even bothering to pretend otherwise. https://t.co/1bWfnHtCES
— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) May 26, 2018
It was Matt Pottinger, a member of your national security council.
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) May 26, 2018
Hollywood, too, joined the scrum:
The fact that Trump keeps this tweet up an hour after the recoding of the WH official (Matt Pottinger) saying it on tape was released tells you how much our POTUS cherishes truth and non-fake news. https://t.co/s1kvnBs0mAhttps://t.co/KQspDh3Jfb
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) May 26, 2018
I wish you'd shut up and go away – now. @realDonaldTrump You are destroying my father's America.
— Nancy Sinatra (@NancySinatra) May 26, 2018
As of 2 pm ET – three hours after Trump posted the Pottinger-denying missive, the tweet remained up. But just in case it doesn’t stay as extant as Pottinger himself, here’s a screen capture: