The mother and stepfather of a British teenager allegedly killed by an American diplomat’s wife in a wrong-way crash earlier this year met with President Trump on Tuesday, telling reporters afterward that the president had offered to have them meet with the woman on the spot.
Harry Dunn, 19, was killed after his motorcycle collided with a car near RAF Croughton, a British military base west of Milton Keynes that’s home to a signals intelligence station operated by the U.S. Air Force.
Northamptonshire Police say that Anne Sacoolas, a mother of three and the wife of Jonathan Sacoolas, who works at the U.S. base, was being “treated as a suspect.” The police said Sacoolas indicated to them that she didn’t plan to leave the country in the near future, but Sacoolas returned to the U.S., circumventing the British investigation and claiming diplomatic immunity.
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Trump invited Charlotte Charles, Dunn’s mother, and her family to the White House, offering them the chance to meet Sacoolas in person.
The family has previously said they just wanted to talk to Sacoolas and did not “necessarily,” want her to be punished, although many U.K. officials, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, vowed to escalate the issue if necessary to bring Sacoolas back to Britain to participate in the investigation, according to Sky News.
Days ago, Sacoolas said she wanted to meet Dunn’s family “so that she can express her deepest sympathies and apologies for this tragic accident,” according to BBC News.
Radd Seiger, a family spokesperson for the Dunns, described Trump as “warm” and “generous.”
Seiger said Trump “extended his condolences, I thought perfectly appropriately and made it clear that he understood the family situation,” before offering for the family to meet Sacoolas, who was in the next room.
“That did take us by surprise because we had resolved that that’s not something we were prepared to do at this moment,” Seiger said. “This family is still emotionally shut down.”
“We were a bit shocked,” Charles added. “It’s not appropriate to meet her without therapists or mediators, let alone for us as a family, but also for her. I don’t think it’s appropriate for her. How can it be comfortable for her to be thrown into a situation like that without therapists or mediators?”
Charles said that although she felt Trump was being “sincere” in his appeal to her, offering condolences to her family and even holding her hand, she added that “they were trying desperately to get us to, not give in, but to accept the invitation to meet her on their terms, which we weren’t willing to do.”
Charles said she is willing to meet Sacoolas “on our terms, on U.K. soil,” but until the U.S. government agrees to send Sacoolas back, they are unwilling to do so.
“It was certainly, I think, not a bad meeting,” Seiger said. “But we are no further on in terms of getting what we want, which is having Mrs. Sacoolas return to the U.K. and in fact, that was made pretty clear to us at one point that was never going to happen.”
Diplomatic immunity usually only covers diplomats and their dependents based in London. But a special agreement has been in place since 1994 that covers diplomats working at RAF Croughton, according to Sky News. Seiger announced earlier Tuesday that the family’s lawyers, Mark Stephens and Geoffrey Robertson QC, were ready to launch a full investigation into the role the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) played in granting immunity to Sacoolas.
Charles said Trump held her hands when offering condolences and “when he held my hands I grabbed a lot tighter and just said to him — was honest with him and said — as I said a little while ago, ‘You know if it was your son you would be doing the same as us,’ and he actually grabbed hold of my hand a little bit tighter and he said ‘Yes, I would be.’ And that’s what he said that he would try and hit this and try and push it from a different angle.”
Charles said Trump’s words gave her a “tiny little bit of hope,” that Sacoolas would be returned to the U.K. and Trump “will hopefully take another look and maybe work harder for us.”
Charles, who also has two other children, one a twin to Dunn, said frustrations still linger as the White House has been unable to provide answers as to why Sacoolas was allowed to return to the U.S. in the midst of the investigation.
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“They couldn’t tell us who made the decision, who let her come back to the U.S. We asked how long she was there for, they said, ‘Oh, she stayed for three weeks.’ We’re not totally sure about that and I think work needs to be shown to prove that somehow,” Charles said.
“What exactly … what date she came home to the U.S.? Who made that decision? Who thought it was humanely right to allow her to unintentionally, or otherwise, kill somebody and just walk away? I mean that’s it. Everyone can see that it’s wrong. It’s totally wrong.”
Fox News” Marcus DiPaola contributed to this report.
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