A Democratic member of Congress says she heard the call.
President Trump told the widow of US Army Sgt. La David Johnson, a Green Beret killed during a mission in Niger on October 4, "He knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens, it hurts anyway,” according to a Democratic member of Congress who says she heard the call.
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) says she was present with Myeshia Johnson, Sgt. Johnson's pregnant widow and mother of his two children, when President Trump called her at 4:45pm on Tuesday, nearly two full weeks after Sgt. Johnson's death. Wilson told WPLG Local 10 News in Miami, which broke the story, "It's so insensitive. He should have not said that. He shouldn't have said it."
Wilson reiterated her account on Twitter, and in an appearance on CNN. According to the Washington Post’s Phil Rucker, the White House isn’t confirming or denying Wilson’s story, only saying such calls are “private.”
Florida congresswoman says the President told the widow of a fallen soldier "he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurts" pic.twitter.com/fB2PALhxiG— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) October 18, 2017
Trump’s comments come in the midst of controversy over his failure to reach out to the families of Johnson and the three others killed in the Niger mission — controversy that the president’s public remarks have only extended.
Asked about the matter on Monday, Trump publicly alleged President Barack Obama and “most” other past presidents did not call or comfort the families of slain soldiers, and that he himself did so “when it’s appropriate.”
Trump’s allegations against Obama (and George W. Bush) were met with huge pushback from both officials in those governments and military veterans, like former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey:
POTUS 43 & 44 and first ladies cared deeply, worked tirelessly for the serving, the fallen, and their families. Not politics. Sacred Trust.— GEN(R) Marty Dempsey (@Martin_Dempsey) October 17, 2017
Trump’s latest comments about Sgt. Johnson’s service fit into a longer pattern of disrespect toward members of the military, as Vox’s Yochi Dreazen notes. That includes mocking Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for getting captured by the North Vietnamese and attacking the parents of late Army Captain Humayun Khan during the 2016 campaign. But it's continued into his presidency, including Trump’s refusal to accept responsibility for a special operations raid in Yemen early in his presidency that killed a Navy SEAL and dozens of civilians.