President: Congresswoman ‘fabricated’ comments to widow of fallen soldier
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump denied Wednesday that he told the widow of a US serviceman killed in an ambush in Niger that “he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.”
“Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!” he tweeted.
Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, made the claim Tuesday night, saying she was present when the call took place.
“Basically he said, ‘Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt,’ ” Wilson said.
“That’s what he said,” she added.
Asked earlier if she was sure the President said that, Wilson told CNN affiliate WPLG: “Yeah, he said that. You know, … that is something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn’t say that to a grieving widow. Everyone knows when you go to war you could possibly not come back alive, but you don’t remind a grieving widow of that. That is so insensitive. So insensitive.”
CNN asked the White House for comment. A White House official said, “The President’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private.”
CNN was unable to reach the family for comment.
Four US soldiers were killed by enemy fire in an October 4 ambush in Niger.
“I felt very, very badly about that,” President Trump said Monday. “I always feel badly. It is the toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed.”
He then stated that other commanders in chief hadn’t reached out to families of Americans killed in action, indicating he’d been told as much by the generals who serve in his administration.
The President told reporters to ask his chief of staff, retired General John Kelly, whether President Barack Obama called him after his son died in Afghanistan.
Kelly’s son Robert died when he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan in 2010. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, was a lieutenant general at the time.
Multiple White House officials have told CNN that Obama did not call Kelly when his son was killed.
CNN asked the White House to talk to Kelly about this issue, but they declined to make him available. Kelly also has not responded to a direct request from comment from CNN.
“I write letters and I also call,” Trump said of himself. “I have called, I believe everybody, but I will use the word virtually everybody.”
“I really speak for myself. I am not speaking for other people. I don’t know what (George W.) Bush did. I don’t know what Obama did,” he added. “I believe his policy was somewhat different than my policy. I can tell you, my policy is I have called every one of them.”
In the first year of Obama’s term, 466 American troops died in Iraq and Afghanistan, compared to 25 this year. A spokesman for Obama declined a CNN request for comment about President Trump’s remarks.
In her interview, Wilson told WPLG that she hoped the President didn’t make similar comments to the ones she heard to the other families of the soldiers killed.
“That is what stood out in everyone’s heart,” she said. “You don’t say that. He is the President of the United States. This is a soldier who gave his life for his country. He is a hero in our minds, in our community’s minds. That is an insult to the entire Miami Gardens community, to the entire District 24, to Miami Dade county and to this nation. And I hope he didn’t say that to the other three families.”