Congresswoman says Donald Trump told dead soldier's widow: ‘He knew what he signed up for’
Donald Trump has been accused of telling the grieving widow of a US soldier that he ‘knew what he signed up for’.
Democrat representative Frederica Wilson told CNN she had listened to part of the US president’s call with the grieving woman on speaker phone while she was with the family in a car.
Mr Trump was offering his condolences to the family of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was one of four soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger on October 4.
His body was returned home to Miami, Florida on Tuesday afternoon, and Mr Trump made a call to the soldier’s widow shortly before his coffin arrived.
Ms Wilson said: ‘Basically he said, “Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt”.’
She added: ‘That is something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn’t say that to a grieving widow.
‘Everyone knows when you go to war you could possibly not come back alive, but you don’t remind a grieving widow of that. That is so insensitive. So insensitive.’
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A spokesman for the White House told CNN: ‘The president’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private.’
Asked on Monday whether he had spoken to the families of soldiers killed serving their country in, Mr Trump said: ‘I felt very, very badly about that.
‘I always feel badly. It is the toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed.’
He then claimed that previous US presidents had not contacted the families of American troops killed in action.
Mr Trump said he had written letters to the families of the four soldiers and planned to call them, saying of his predecessors: ‘Most of them didn’t make calls.’
When pressed, Mr Trump backtracked, saying it was possible Barack Obama ‘did sometimes’ but ‘other presidents did not call’.
The suggestion brought anger in Washington.
‘He’s a deranged animal,’ Alyssa Mastromonaco, a former deputy chief of staff to Mr Obama, tweeted about Mr Trump, calling his statement a lie.
He was also branded a ‘fat, f***ing liar’ by the sister of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq.
George W Bush ‘wrote all the families of the fallen’, said Freddy Ford, the spokesman for the ex-president.
Mr Ford said Mr Bush also called or met ‘hundreds, if not thousands’ of family members of the war dead.
Mr Obama’s official photographer, Pete Souza, tweeted that he photographed Mr Obama ‘meeting with hundreds of wounded soldiers, and family members of those killed in action’.