Hours ahead of an official visit the United Kingdom, President Donald Trump pushed back against media reports that he called Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, “nasty” in a recent interview with British newspaper The Sun.
In a tweet, President Trump wrote, “I never called Meghan Markle ‘nasty,’” claiming the quote was made up by “fake news media.”
A debate over the president’s comments ignited over the weekend.
In the interview, a Sun journalist asked the president if he was sorry to miss the Duchess of Sussex, who is on maternity leave, in light of her past criticism of him. He cited a 2016 Comedy Central interview in which Markle, who was an actress at the time, said she would move to Canada if Trump was elected president. In that interview, Markle also called the president “divisive” and “misogynistic.”
“No, I didn’t know that she was nasty,” the president replied.
In his interview with The Sun, President Trump then went on to wish her well.
“I’m sure she will do excellently. She will be very good. She will be very good. I hope she does,” the president said when asked about how he felt about having an American as part of the royal family.
An audio recording of the Sun's interview was later posted on their site.
A White House official told ABC News the quote was taken out of context by the media, adding the president wasn’t specifically saying she was nasty. Instead, the official said the president meant he was not aware of previous comments made by Markle. The White House official also pointed out the president said very nice things about the duchess including that he thought she would do an excellent job.
That sentiment was echoed by a spokesperson for the president’s reelection campaign.
“Any fair observer of President Trump's comments can clearly hear that President Trump was saying that he was not aware of previous comments made by Meghan Markle,” Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for the Trump campaign, said to ABC News in a statement.
“He then went on to say that Markle will 'do excellently' and 'be very good' in her role as Duchess of Sussex. The distortion and mistruths from the media are shameful,” she added.
ABC News' Will Steakin contributed to this report.