Trump re­mark to widow draws fire

Pres­i­dent de­nies say­ing fallen sol­dier ‘knew what he signed up for’

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -

USA TO­DAY

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Wed­nes­day de­nied telling the widow of a U.S. sol­dier killed by Is­lamic State-linked mil­i­tants in Niger that her hus­band knew “what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurts.”

Rep. Fred­er­ica Wil­son, DFla., said she over­heard the com­ment dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion on speak­er­phone Tuesday between Trump and Army Sgt. La David John­son’s widow, Myeshia John­son, as they trav­eled to­gether to meet John­son’s body in Mi­ami.

Trump chal­lenged Wil­son’s claim in a tweet Wed­nes­day: “Demo­crat Con­gress­woman to­tally fab­ri­cated what I said to the wife of a sol­dier who died in ac­tion (and I have proof ). Sad!”

White House spokesman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders later said that the con­ver­sa­tion was not recorded, but that “sev­eral peo­ple” were in the room when Trump spoke with Myeshia John­son. Trump was “com­pletely re­spect­ful,” she said.

La David John­son’s mother, Cowanda Jones-John­son, con­firmed Wil­son’s ac­count of the con­ver­sa­tion to The Wash­ing­ton Post.

“Pres­i­dent Trump did dis­re­spect my son and my daugh­ter and also me and my hus­band,” Jones-John­son said.

Myeshia John­son, who is six months preg­nant with the cou­ple’s third child, was very up­set af­ter speak­ing with Trump, Wil­son said.

“To me that is some­thing that you can say in a con­ver­sa­tion, but you shouldn’t say that to a griev­ing widow,” Wil­son said. “Everyone knows when you go to war you could pos­si­bly not come back alive. But you don’t re­mind a griev­ing widow of that. It’s so in­sen­si­tive.”

Wil­son told CNN af­ter Trump’s tweet that her press aide and other mem­bers of John­son fam­ily also heard parts of the con­ver­sa­tion.

“So the pres­i­dent ev­i­dently is ly­ing, be­cause what I said is true,” she said. “I have no rea­son to lie on the pres­i­dent of the United States with a dead sol­dier in my com­mu­nity.”

Later Wed­nes­day, Trump again de­nied mak­ing the state­ment, telling re­porters that Wil­son knew he was right but didn’t want to ad­mit it.

That drew another tweet from Wil­son: “I still stand by my ac­count of the call b/t @re­alDon­aldTrump and Myeshia John­son. That is her name, Mr. Trump. Not “the woman” or “the wife.’ ”

Wil­son said John­son could not re­mem­ber ev­ery­thing Trump said, but be­lieved that Trump didn’t know her hus­band’s name. “Now that’s the worst part,” Wil­son said.

Trump was widely crit­i­cized af­ter he de­fended his slow pub­lic re­sponse to the deaths of the soldiers, falsely claim­ing that most of his pre­de­ces­sors never called the fam­i­lies of ser­vice­mem­bers killed in ac­tion.

Four soldiers were am­bushed and killed while on a pa­trol in the west African country on Oct. 4. They were serv­ing in Niger as part of an op­er­a­tion to train lo­cal forces to com­bat the Boko Haram ter­ror group. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the deaths is un­der­way.

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