Relatives of dead American soldiers are coming forward with glowing stories about former President Barack Obama to defy Donald Trump's recent claim that past presidents never comforted military families.
Stephanie Fisher, for example, told HuffPost she got a personal letter from Obama within a week of her son's 2012 death in Afghanistan. Michelle DeFord, whose son died in Iraq in 2004—before Obama was even in office—recounted the hug he gave her years later upon discovering she was a Gold Star mother.
"You had a sense of their appreciation and their acknowledgement of your sacrifice," DeFord told the Guardian, adding that she was also in contact with then-first lady Michelle Obama.
Military moms and former White House officials alike were outraged Monday when Trump attacked his predecessors after being asked why he hadn't yet reached out to the families of U.S. special forces members who were fatally ambushed on October 4 in Niger. First, Trump said he was almost finished with letters to send the troops' families. Then he bragged that he planned to call them.
"If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls. A lot of them didn’t make calls," Trump said, and instantly began to walk his remarks back. "President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told."
Obama aides pointed out that Trump's comments, even watered down, weren't true. One former White House worker told Politico that Obama not only called families but also sent letters and met with them at cemeteries, hospitals and events. Former Attorney General Eric Holder put it more bluntly, tweeting "stop the damn lying ... I went to Dover [Air Force Base] with 44 and saw him comfort the families of both the fallen military & DEA."
Parents of fallen soldiers have also joined the chorus criticizing Trump for his statements. Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son died in combat in Iraq in 2004, slammed his "selfish and divisive actions" that "have undermined the dignity of the high office of the presidency," according to the Hill. The Khans had previously been attacked by then-candidate Trump.
On Tuesday night, the White House confirmed that Trump had indeed called the families of the Americans killed in Niger. But Trump's apparent effort to confort one widow backfired when a congresswoman told reporters she overheard Trump tell the widow, Myeshia Johnson, that her husband "knew what he was getting into" when he signed up to be a Green Beret.
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