WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump defended his call to a fallen soldier’s widow in a Monday tweet, saying he was “respectful” and did not forget the slain soldier’s name.
Trump addressed the call on Twitter Monday after Myeshia Johnson, La David Johnson’s widow, appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” She said that in Trump’s call to her last week he “couldn’t remember my husband’s name.”
Johnson added: “The only way he could remember my husband’s name was he told me he had my husband’s report in front of him and that’s when he actually said La David.”
On Twitter, Trump said: “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!”
I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2017
Sgt. La David Johnson was one of four American military personnel killed in Niger nearly two weeks ago whose families had not heard from Trump until Tuesday. Representative Frederica Wilson said that Trump told the widow that Johnson “knew what he signed up for.”
The Florida Democrat said she was in the car with the widow, Myeshia Johnson, on the way to Miami International Airport to meet the body when Trump called. La David Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the congresswoman’s account was correct.
Here's the full interview with Myeshia Johnson, widow of fallen soldier Sgt. La David Johnson pic.twitter.com/1pbqEonlH0
— Yashar Ali
“Yes the statement is true,” Jones-Johnson said. “I was in the car and I heard the full conversation.
That’s simply not so, Trump said Wednesday. He declared on Twitter: “Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!”
And in a White House meeting on tax overhaul, Trump said that he “didn’t say what that congresswoman said, didn’t say it at all. She knows it.”
Wilson did not back down from her account, suggesting that Trump “never wants to take ownership” of a mistake.
“If you are the leader of the free world, if you are president of the United States and you want to convey sympathy to a grieving family, a grieving widow, you choose your words carefully,” Wilson told AP on Wednesday. “And everyone knows that Donald Trump does not choose his words carefully.”
“She was crying for the whole time,” Wilson said of the new widow. “And the worst part of it — when he hung up you know what she turned to me and said? She said he didn’t even remember his name.”
Like presidents before him, Trump has made personal contact with some families of the fallen but not all. What’s different is that Trump, alone among them, has picked a political fight over who’s done better to honor the war dead and their families.
He placed himself at the top of the list, saying on Tuesday, “I think I’ve called every family of someone who’s died” while past presidents didn’t place such calls.
But AP found relatives of four soldiers who died overseas during Trump’s presidency who said they never received calls from him. Relatives of two also confirmed they did not get letters. And proof is plentiful that Barack Obama and George W. Bush — saddled with far more combat casualties than the roughly two dozen so far under Trump — took painstaking steps to write, call or meet bereaved military families.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.