The grieving family of 19-year-old Harry Dunn have spoken out about their ill-fated meeting with Donald Trump at the White House in a new interview. Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn told CNN on Thursday morning that the president “doesn’t understand” how the accident that killed their son has “broken” their family.
Dunn was killed when 42-year-old American Anne Sacoolas, who is married to an intelligence officer who was working at a spy base in Croughton, England, hit his motorcycle head-on while driving down the wrong side of the road on Aug. 27. Sacoolas initially cooperated with authorities, but then left the country under diplomatic-immunity protections in early September before authorities could formally investigate her or charge her with a crime.
Dunn’s parents had only hoped to convince Trump to send Sacoolas back to the U.K. for justice, not to meet her in person. Radd Seiger, the family spokesman, who appeared on CNN with the family, added that during the visit, new National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien “snarled” at him and jeered that Sacoolas “would never return” to the U.K.
“I used to look up to that institution,” Seiger told CNN. “But it’s a bunch of henchmen trying to make him look good.”
During the White House meeting, Trump surprised Dunn’s parents with the announcement that Sacoolas, who they had made clear they would only meet on U.K. soil if she returned to assist the investigation, was behind a door waiting.
In an email to The Daily Beast on Thursday, Seiger shot down White House denials that photographers were present for the supposed meetup. “We do not know who the photographer(s) were or which organization they were from,” the family spokesman said. “But they were there and had cameras and were clearly poised to grab that “poster picture shot” in the event that the president’s callous plan had come off.”
Seiger continued: “Further, if President Trump really had Harry’s best interests at heart and really only wanted to comfort them he would have a) given advance notice of his intention to convene such a meeting with Mrs Sacoolas b) sought consent from us instead of springing it on us c) arranged for it to take place in a neutral and controlled environment with mediators and therapists around and out of the glare of the media spotlight [and] d) called off his attack dog Robert O’Brien who snapped, snarled and intimated his way through the meeting within feet of grieving people.”
On Wednesday, Trump said he arranged the meeting at the request of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been very vocal about Sacoolas returning to England. Johnson had earlier insisted Sacoolas return and promised he would take the matter up personally with the president.
But on Thursday, Downing Street denied it had asked for such a meeting between Sacoolas and Dunn’s parents to take place and had not been informed or involved in the planning. “The P.M. and the president spoke last Wednesday and the P.M. asked the president to do all he could to resolve the issue,” a spokeswoman for the prime minister’s office told The Guardian. “During the conversation, the president raised a possibility of a meeting with Anne Sacoolas at the White House, but at that stage we weren’t aware of any plans for the family to go [to the U.S.], so it wasn’t discussed further.”
The Sacoolas family, who have assembled a team of lawyers versed in international diplomacy and extradition, are expected to return to the U.K. this weekend.