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World & Nation

Spokesman for grieving U.K. parents: White House is ‘a bunch of henchmen’ for Trump

Charlotte Charles
Charlotte Charles, mother of Harry Dunn, is comforted during a news conference in New York on Monday. Dunn, 19, was killed in August when his motorcycle collided with a car allegedly driven by Anne Sacoolas, a U.S. diplomat’s wife, in Britain.
(Associated Press)

The grieving parents of a British teenager who was killed in a car crash involving a U.S. diplomat’s wife said President Trump “doesn’t understand” how much the accident had “broken” their family.

Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn appeared on CNN for an interview Thursday morning in which they described an unexpected turn of events during their visit to the White House on Tuesday. The president surprised them by saying the woman involved in the crash, Anne Sacoolas, was willing to meet with them in front of the White House press corps. The Dunn family has insisted that they will meet with Sacoolas only in the U.K. as they push for her to return to Britain and face the legal system.

Charles said Trump’s effort was likely an attempt to intimidate them into meeting Sacoolas in the U.S.

“We’ve been saying all along that it needs to be on U.K. soil. It needs to be in a controlled environment. Not just for us, but for her as well. She’s clearly traumatized,” Charles said. “We are still willing to meet her with therapists and mediators like we’ve been saying all along.”

Dunn added that he and Charles had been invited to a meeting with a “senior official” on short notice but weren’t given any other details.

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Once they got to the Oval Office, a spokesman for the family said that the atmosphere quickly changed when Trump said Sacoolas was in the next room and that the family was going to meet her.

“There was no sort of thought about what these people were going through. I presume that if there was a psychiatrist there, he would have said, ‘No way,’ ” the spokesman, Radd Seiger, said in the interview. “You do that in a controlled environment. Not in the Oval Office with the cameras, henchmen snarling at us and big Secret Service people. It was terrifying.”

Seiger said it was clear to him now that Trump was trying to stage a “photo op.” When he pushed back on the proposal and reiterated the family’s wishes for the meeting to be held under their proposed circumstances in the U.K., Seiger said that national security advisor Robert C. O’Brien “snarled” at him and said Sacoolas would “never” return to Britain.

“I used to look up to that institution,” Seiger said. “But it’s a bunch of henchmen trying to make [Trump] look good.”

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Harry Dunn, 19, was killed in August when his motorcycle collided with a car allegedly driven by Sacoolas in southern England. She then left Britain, although police said that Sacoolas had previously told them she wasn’t planning to depart.

Trump said at a news conference on Wednesday that Sacoolas was accidentally driving on the wrong side of the road — something Trump said “happens in Europe” because drivers in England drive on the left side of the road instead of the right.

The family said that Trump was “stating the obvious” and that his comments showed he didn’t understand how much the accident had hurt their family. They added that the president shouldn’t expect them to back down.

“She still needs to face the justice system,” Charles said.


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