The Boy Scouts are denying a claim by President Donald Trump that the head of the youth organization called the president to praise his politically aggressive speech to the Scouts' national jamboree, the AP reports. Trump told the Wall Street Journal, "I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful." Politico published the transcript of the interview. On Wednesday, the Scouts responded, "We are unaware of any such call." It specified that neither of the organization's two top leaders—President Randall Stephenson and Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh—had placed such a call.
Surbaugh apologized last week to members of the Scouting community who were offended by the political rhetoric in Trump's July 24 speech in West Virginia. Other US presidents have delivered nonpolitical speeches at past jamborees. To the dismay of many parents and former scouts, Trump promoted his political agenda and derided his rivals, inducing some of the Scouts in attendance to boo at the mention of Barack Obama, his predecessor. Stephenson, in a phone interview with the AP two days after the speech, said Boy Scout leaders anticipated Trump would spark controversy with politically tinged remarks, yet felt obliged to invite him out of respect for his office.