Gov. Gavin Newsom of California has poured cold water on Donald Trump’s claim that he called the president “one of the smartest people I’ve ever met” in a private telephone call.
Trump made the assertion during his speech at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference. But Newsom, a Democrat, dismissed Trump’s version of events on Monday’s broadcast of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°.”
“You can’t make this up, Anderson,” the governor said.
Newsom explained that he spoke to the president “because I wanted to extend to him my appreciation” for his visit to California areas hit by wildfires and to “express the fact that the people in those communities were grateful to him.”
“I was grateful to him,” Newsom added. “The people in those communities appreciated not only his time and attention but appreciated his commitments that he made.”
But Newsom said his thanks “somehow” got conflated by Trump. “I think we hear what we want to hear,” he continued. “So no, I can’t admit, quote, unquote, to what I said privately because that’s not what I said.”
Check out the segment here:
Newsom, whose state government is clashing with Trump over environmental regulations, Trump’s promised border wall and plans for a bullet train, added he was still committed to working with the Trump White House on disaster preparedness.
“I do want to work with him on emergency preparedness and emergency planning,” Newsom said. “I do want to rise above this politics, I think that’s important and I think people expect that. To the extent we can continue to have an open hand and not a clenched fist, I’m all for it.”