In his latest attack on Gold Star families — relatives of the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of United States government interests, President Donald Trump on Monday disputed the account of his condolence call to grieving war widow Myeshia Johnson.
Sgt. La David Johnson, a 25-year-old decorated Army Green Beret, was killed in an October 4 ambush along with three other Green Berets deployed with around 1,000 other US troops in Niger, part of the open-ended 16-year global war against terrorism that has claimed more than a million lives. Trump had come under fire for failing to publicly mention the slain soldiers for two weeks after their deaths. The president only spoke about the deadly incident when he was asked by a journalist during a press conference, at which he lied by asserting his predecessors, including Barack Obama, did not contact the families of fallen US service members.
Last week, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), who was in the same vehicle as Myeshia Johnson when Trump made a condolence call to the pregnant widow, claimed the president told her that her husband “knew what he signed up for” when he joined the military. Johnson confirmed this, saying her conversation with the president made her feel even worse than she already did. In addition to confirming the callous comment overheard by Rep. Wilson, Johnson said Trump forgot her husband’s name. Appearingon ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday, she called Wilson’s account of the condolence call “100 percent correct,” saying:
“He couldn’t remember my husband’s name. The only way he remembered my husband’s name because he told me he had my husband’s report in front of him and that’s when he actually said La David. I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name, and that hurt me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risks his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?”
Trump took to Twitter to essentially call the Gold Star wife a liar. “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation,” the president tweeted.
The president also said Wilson “fabricated” her account of the call. Last Tuesday, Trump dragged his chief of staff, John Kelly, into the fray, and the former Marine general dutifully defended his boss. Kelly said he was “stunned” that Wilson, who he later called an “empty barrel,” would listen in on such a “sacred” conversation. Kelly also excoriated Wilson for allegedly claiming to have secured funding for an FBI field office in Miami — something the congresswoman has never done. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders also weighed in, opining that it was “inappropriate” to “get into a debate with a four-star Marine general.”
This isn’t the first time Trump has attacked grieving Gold Star families. He raised eyebrows and ire — and plenty of campaign contributions — during last year’s presidential race after belittling the parents of Human Khan, a 27-year-old Army captain who died while saving other soldiers in a 2004 car bomb attack during the US occupation of Iraq. In what critics called thinly-veiled slur of Muslims, Trump suggested that Khizr Khan, the soldier’s father, would not allow his wife to speak.
Last week, Gold Star father Chris Baldridge, whose son, 22-year-old Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, was killed in Afghanistan, accused Trump of promising to send him a personal check for $25,000 but failing to follow through. The Trump administration says the check is in the mail.