President Donald Trump said Friday that he apologized to British Prime Minister Theresa May for his interview with a major British tabloid in which he said May ignored his advice on Brexit and praised former United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
“When I saw her this morning, I said, ‘I want to apologize, because I said such good things about you,’” Trump said, recalling the moment to reporters during a joint press conference with May in Chequers, the prime minister’s country residence west of London.
According to Trump, May told him, “Don’t worry, it’s only the press.”
Trump added that he thought May’s response was “very professional.”
A source familiar with the meetings confirmed to CNN that Trump did apologize to the prime minister.
In an interview with The Sun that published Thursday, Trump warned that May’s approach to Brexit would likely “kill” the prospect of a new US-UK trade deal and said he had “told her (May) how to do” Brexit. He said Friday that May and her representatives have since reassured him that a trade deal would still be possible.
Trump also insisted on Friday that he did not criticize May during his interview and said the tabloid failed to include his praise of May in the article.
“I said very good things about her. I didn’t think they put it in, but that’s all right. I wish they put it in the headline,” he told reporters while standing beside May.
He also said that the prime minister was doing a “terrific job and Brexit is a very tough situation.”
“She’s a very smart, very tough, very capable person,” Trump said of May.
Still, Trump did not back away from his comments, reaffirming that he would handle Brexit differently than May and saying he believes that Johnson, May’s chief political rival in her own party who resigned from her Cabinet this week over the issue, “would be a great prime minister.”
“I also said that this incredible woman right here is doing a great job, doing a fantastic job,” Trump said, justifying his comments.
CNN’s Eli Watkins, Stephen Collinson and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.