President Donald Trump on Wednesday addressed the transatlantic controversy over a U.S. diplomat’s wife who allegedly fatally hit a British motorcyclist while driving on the wrong side of the road and who subsequently fled the U.K.
Emphasizing that Anne Sacoolas, who is married to diplomat Jonathan Sacoolas, made a mistake, Trump said his administration is “going to speak to her ... so there can be some healing.” He did not provide further details.
The family of motorcyclist Harry Dunn, 19, has been pleading with American leadership to waive the diplomatic immunity afforded to Anne Sacoolas due to her husband’s position.
Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, told Sky News that her son’s Aug. 27 death had left the family “utterly broken.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson brought up the subject during a Wednesday call with Trump, fulfilling a pledge to do so that he made earlier in the week.
“A terrible accident occurred,” Trump told reporters gathered in the White House. “The person driving the car ― they know it was, and they have that on camera ― a young man was killed on his motorcycle,” Trump continued, without elaborating on any apparent video evidence. “Sounds like instantly killed,” he added.
The president then seemingly admitted that he has also driven on the wrong side of the road in a foreign country.
“The woman was driving on the wrong side of the road ― and that can happen!” Trump said. “Those are the opposite roads, it happens. I won’t say it ever happened to me, but it did. When you get used to one system and then you’re all of a sudden on the other system where you’re driving, it happens. You have to be careful.”
Some British politicians have joined the chorus of British citizens demanding Sacoolas be brought back to the U.K. for police questioning.
Trump ventured that “frankly a lot of Americans feel the same way” about the situation and want to help the Dunn family heal. He did not address the status of Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity.
When British police spoke with Sacoolas after the collision, she told them she had no plans to leave the country, the authorities said. Police attempted to proceed with their investigation through the proper channels by applying for a diplomatic immunity waiver with the U.S. Embassy, which would allow them to question their suspect. The embassy, however, immediately relocated the Sacoolas family to the U.S. and denied the waiver request.
Per the 1961 Vienna Convention, diplomats and their close family members are not subject to the foreign laws, and the U.S. State Department said it rarely waives the privilege in cases like this.
Although there was some confusion this week over whether Sacoolas qualifies for diplomatic immunity, HuffPost confirmed her status with the U.K.’s Foreign Office.
In a statement this week, the family said Dunn’s mother would like to meet Sacoolas and “give her a hug.”
“She made a mistake that night,” the family said of Sacoolas. “We all make mistakes.”