Trump Says He Called ‘Every Family’ of Soldiers Who Died. But Some Never Heard From Him

Commentary and Research by Patricia Garza, Editor and Founder

Trump has been criticized recently for not saying anything about the four green beret special forces soldiers killed two weeks ago in an ambush in Nigeria.

Monday Trump tried to make things better by telling the press he had letters written and was going to send them on Monday. By Tuesday Trump says he also called the four families of the deceased soldiers. 

By Tuesday night the media discovered that Trump did call at least one family, the family of Army Sgt La David Johnson. However, Democrat, Florida congresswoman Rep Federica Wilson, who was in the car with the widow and her family on the way to receive her husband’s casket, overheard the call by speakerphone and said Trump told the grieving, pregnant widow that “he(La David) knew what he signed up for”.

Outraged, the Democratic congresswoman expressed her disgust on Twitter and to various national media outlets. By Wednesday morning Trump denied saying what the congresswoman claims, and says he has proof. Since then, they’ve both been disputing the call over Twitter.

Trump denial

Congresswoman Wilson’s tweet stands by her statement.



However, according to reports the mother in law of La David’s widow, Myeshia, and another family member confirmed that Trump was rude and agreed with what the congresswoman said.

The Washington Post spoke to La David Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, who said she was present during the call from the White House on Tuesday to Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson. Johnson’s mother also stood by the account of the call from Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) that Trump told Johnson’s widow that her husband “must have known what he signed up for.”

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

Rep Wilson told The Washington Post that Trump had told Johnson’s widow, “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”

Wilson said she was riding in a limousine with Johnson when the president called, and said she heard the conversation on speakerphone.

“He made her cry,” Wilson said.

Jones-Johnson, speaking to The Post via Facebook Messenger, declined to elaborate.

But asked whether Wilson’s account of the conversation between Trump and the family was accurate, she replied: “Yes.”

According to the New York Post, Sgt. Johnson had been a member of a mentorship program started by Congresswoman Wilson.

A White House official later said, “The president’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private.”

Myeshia, who is pregnant with the couple’s third child, collapsed in tears on her husband’s flag-draped coffin at Miami International Airport on Tuesday.

The hero sergeant and three fellow soldiers were killed by ISIS-affiliated fighters in Niger on Oct. 4. His body had to be left behind amid the fighting and it took two days before it was recovered, according to US Africa Command.  The Department of Defense is conducting a review into the ambush.

Nearly two weeks after the deadly attack, the details of the mission remain unclear.

The soldiers’ deaths, and Trump’s lack of public comment for 12 days afterward, led to a firestorm of criticism when he finally did speak Monday and (falsely) claimed other presidents often did not call the families of fallen soldiers.

“So the traditional way, 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 claimed Monday.

Former Obama deputy chief of staff Alyssa Mastromonacos called Trump “a deranged animal” on Twitter.

Additionally, in media reports late Wednesday, it was discovered that not only did Trump fail to console the family of La David Johnson, but he also failed to pay $25,000 to another soldier’s family who died in June. Trump had told the father he’d send them a $25,000 personal check, but months passed and they only received a consolation letter.

Chris Baldridge’s son, Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, died in Afghanistan in June, the Washington Post reports. Baldridge says Trump called a few weeks later and they spoke for about 15 minutes. When Baldridge noted he was struggling to make ends meet, while his ex-wife was expected to receive a $100,000 death gratuity from the Pentagon, Trump offered to write a check himself.

“He said, ‘I’m going to write you a check out of my personal account for $25,000,’ and I was just floored,” Baldridge told the Post. “I could not believe he was saying that, and I wish I had it recorded because the man did say this. He said, ‘No other president has ever done something like this,’ but he said, ‘I’m going to do it.’”

When Baldridge later received a condolence letter, he says, “I opened it up and read it, and I was hoping to see a check in there, to be honest. I know it was kind of far-fetched thinking. But I was like, ‘Damn, no check.’ Just a letter saying ‘I’m sorry.’”

However, after the Washington Post reported Trump’s broken promise today, the White House says Trump has sent the check to the family.

On top of those missed opportunities, another Gold Star family says Trump never called her family after her son was killed in Syria in May.

Time reports:

Sheila Murphy says, she got no call or letter from President Donald Trump, even as she waited months for his condolences, wrote to him to say “some days I don’t want to live,” and still heard nothing.

While nobody likes to see something like this become politicized, the media snowball has grown since Trump failed to initially acknowledge the deaths of these heroes. Then Trump amplified it by saying, other Presidents didn’t call families of every soldier who died like he’s done while he’s been president.  After this statement was proven false, Trump then made things worse with his insensitive response to the widow of La David Johnson. In the meantime, Trump continues to deny saying what has been reported that, La David “knew what he signed up for”, the family of the fallen soldier and the congresswoman who was with them stand by their recollection of the phone conversation. 

Nobody knows why Trump does or says some of the things he says, but we can only hope he learns from these mistakes and starts showing more concern, sensitivity, and empathy towards others. This is something that Trump truly seems to lack when it comes to common sense and understanding. And if he does have ‘proof’ he didn’t say what he has been reported to have said, then he needs to share his proof. However, Trump claimed he had proof before when it came to his conversation with former FBI Director Comey’s firing and his claims Obama had him under surveillance, but he never revealed his ‘proof’.

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