Towards the end of a joint press conference outside Chequers, the Prime Minister’s official residence, the US president said he had apologised to May about the explosive comments he had made to The Sun.
When asked about the explosive article by the BBC’s Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg, he said: “It didn’t put what I said about the Prime Minister. It’s called fake news.”
He later said he apologised to May when they met on Friday morning, adding The Sun had left out the good things he had said about her.
He said: “She’s a total professional because when I saw her this morning I said ‘I want to apologise because I said such good things about you’.
“She said: ‘Don’t worry it’s only the press.’ I thought that was very professional.”
As May said something to him, over laughter from reporters, he added: “Don’t worry they have been doing it to me and I do it to them.”
But later, during an exchange with The Sun’s reporter Tom Newton Dunn, who wrote the article in question, Trump said the article did include the positive comments he had made, to which Trump replied that he was upset it wasn’t in the headline.
Several reporters asked about Trump’s opinions on May’s Brexit plans, which were hashed out at the same country retreat last week during a crunch cabinet meeting.
Although Trump had said earlier that May’s plan might kill US-British trade deals, he suggested on Friday that he would accept “whatever deal” as long as “we can trade together”.
“I think she’s doing a tremendous job,” Trump said of May, insisting that he’d said “tremendous things” about her.
In his opening remarks, he also turned to May and told her that “whatever you’re gonna do, it’s OK with us,” backpedaling on earlier remarks slamming her.
A spokesman for The Sun, which is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the Trump-friendly US outlet Fox News, said: “We stand by our reporting and the quotes we used – including those where the President was positive about the Prime Minister, in both the paper and in our audio – and we’re delighted that the President essentially retracted his original charge against the paper later in the press conference.
It is understood the paper has a full recording of the 28-minute interview, but do not intend to release it.
Selected clips of the recording have been released, in which Trump can be heard saying referring to the fact he likes May.