Mark Meadows has defended Donald Trump’s claim that the recent explosion in Beirut was an attack despite the fact the government of Lebanon said it was an accident.
The Lebanese government blamed the deadly incident on an “unsecured” shipment of ammonium nitrate – a chemical used in fertilizers and industrial explosives.
President Trump thought otherwise at a Tuesday press conference.
“This seems to be, according to [the generals], they would know better than I would, but they seem to think it was an attack,” he said.
“It was a bomb of some kind.”
Meadows, the White House chief of staff, backed Trump’s claim, though it appears to be entirely false. He said Defense Secretary Mark Esper didn’t know if it was a bomb or not.
“I can tell you from Secretary Esper’s standpoint, he doesn’t know,” Meadows told CNN on Wednesday.
“I can tell you the initial report was exactly what the President shared with all of you. I happen to know that he was briefed on that. The initial reports looked at an explosion,” Meadows said.
“We still have not totally ruled that out.”
“Without sharing anything classified, I’ve been able to see a lot of what has taken place there. We’ll continue to evaluate that,” he said.
“Obviously, there’s no group that has claimed any responsibility but what the president shared with the American people is what he was briefed on.”
Meadows said Trump’s claim of an attack was “not speculation on his part.”
Darragh Roche is a journalist covering U.S. politics and media