White House: No Apology to British Government over Spying Claims
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - White House press secretary Sean Spicer flatly denied Friday that the White House apologized to the British government after citing an uncorroborated Fox News report to allege that a UK intelligence agency spied on US President Donald Trump.
Earlier in the day, however, a senior administration official told CNN that Spicer and national security adviser H.R. McMaster offered what amounted to an apology to the British government for Spicer's comments on Thursday, when he cited a Fox News report that said British intelligence helped wiretap Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.
"I don't think we regret anything," Spicer told reporters at a gaggle Friday afternoon. Asked by CNN's Jim Acosta if there was an apology by the administration to the British government over the matter, Spicer replied, "No, we were just passing on news reports."
Earlier Friday, a White House official told CNN that McMaster spoke with his British counterpart on Thursday about Spicer's comment.
The official described the conversation as "cordial" where McMaster described Spicer's comment as "unintentional."
McMaster also told his counterpart that "their concerns were understood and heard and it would be relayed to the White House."
The official said there were "at least two calls" from British officials on Thursday and that the British ambassador to the United States called Spicer to discuss the comment.
"Sean was pointing to the breadth of reporting, not endorsing any specific story," the official said.
White House officials later told CNN that it was British ambassador to the US Kim Darroch and Sir Mark Lyall Grant, national security adviser to Prime Minister Theresa May, who "expressed their concerns to Sean Spicer and Gen. McMaster" in two separate conversations on Thursday.
"Mr. Spicer and Gen. McMaster explained that Mr. Spicer was simply pointing to public reports, not endorsing any specific story," one official said.
Spicer spoke to Darroch face-to-face at a White House St. Patrick's Day event, according to a British government official, who described the meeting as "serious" in tone and said it was not cordial.
'These claims are ridiculous'
Earlier Friday, a spokesman for May said senior UK officials had protested to the Trump administration after the claims were repeated by Spicer.
"We've made clear to the US administration that these claims are ridiculous and should be ignored. We've received assurances that these allegations won't be repeated," May's spokesman said.