Donald Trump, apparently desperate for some kind of accomplishment, described a recent conversation on Monday with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
"As you know, the border was a tremendous problem and they're close to 80 percent stoppage," the American president boasted. "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."
There is, of course, one dramatic problem with this anecdote: that phone call doesn't appear to have happened in reality. The Associated Press reported this afternoon that the Mexican government insists that the conversation Trump described did not occur.
Mexico's Foreign Relations Department said in a statement late Monday that Pena Nieto "has not had any recent telephone communication with President Donald Trump." [...]An American official confirmed that no telephone conversation recently occurred between Trump and Pena Nieto.
The issue sparked some controversy in Mexico because Pena Nieto's domestic critics seized on Trump's comments to suggest the two leaders had a secret call in which the Mexican president praised the American president, who is not popular south of the border.
And while the two reportedly did have a conversation about deportations during the G20 summit in early July, it seems the call Trump described didn't happen, and when the two spoke in person in Germany, the conversation is not quite how Trump described it. The figures the American president cited, for example, are not in line with what Pena Nieto said.
What's more, if this sounds a little familiar, it's because it's the second time in 24 hours in which we've learned about a phone call that reportedly exists only in the Republican's imagination.
As we discussed this morning, Trump also claimed the other day to have received "a call from the head of the Boy Scouts" who, in the president's version of events, told him his speech to the National Scout Jamboree "was the greatest speech that was ever made" to the organization.
According to the Boy Scouts, no one from the group's senior leadership called Trump.
Under the circumstances, when the president says he had a phone call with anyone about an issue of any significance, I'd recommend quite a bit skepticism. What's true and what Trump pretends to be true are often very different.
Update: At today's White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders seemed to concede that the calls Trump described didn't occur, but she argued that he did speak with the Mexican president and some officials in the Boy Scouts in person. In effect, she suggested that Trump's claims may not have been technically true, but since they were sort of related to the truth, no one should mind.