President Trump today added a verbal denial to a tweet asserting that he did not tell the grieving wife of a slain soldier that the serviceman “must have known what he signed up for.”
“I didn’t say what that congresswoman said; didn’t say it all. She knows it,” Trump said during remarks to reporters before a meeting with the Senate Finance Committee at the White House. “And she now is not saying it,” he said of the congresswoman, though she tweeted she was sticking by her remarks. “I did not say what she said, and I’d like her to make the statement again because I did not say what she said. I had a very nice conversation with the woman, with the wife who was — sounded like a lovely woman. Did not say what the congresswoman said, and most people aren’t too surprised to hear that.”
Meantime, the mother of the deceased soldier said Trump had disrespected her son.
According to the Washington Post:
The mother of a soldier killed in an ambush in Africa said Wednesday that President Trump “did disrespect my son” with remarks in a condolence telephone call.
Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Washington Post that she was present during the call from the White House on Tuesday to Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson. Johnson’s mother also stood by an 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.
Trump lashed back. He denied Wilson’s account in a Twitter message Wednesday. He said he had “proof” that the exchange did not go as Wilson had described. Trump did not elaborate, but the claim again raised questions about whether the president tapes calls and conversations.
Wilson had said that the Johnson family was “astonished” by Trump’s remarks during the phone call, which Wilson said she heard via a speaker phone while riding in a car with the Johnson family.
Wilson told MSNBC on Wednesday that Johnson’s widow was shaken by the exchange.
“She was crying the whole time, and when she hung up the phone, she looked at me and said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name.’ That’s the hurting part.”
Wilson went on to say Trump “was almost like joking. He said, ‘Well, I guess you knew’ — something to the effect that ‘he knew what he was getting into when he signed up, but I guess it hurts anyway.’ You know, just matter-of-factly, that this is what happens, anyone who is signing up for military duty is signing up to die. That’s the way we interpreted it. It was horrible. It was insensitive. It was absolutely crazy, unnecessary. I was livid.”
“She was in tears. She was in tears. And she said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name.’”