Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) on Wednesday detailed what she said were President Donald Trump’s “sarcastic” and almost “joking” comments to the grieving widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4.
Three other Green Berets were also killed in the attack.
Wilson told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Wednesday morning that she was in the car with Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson (pictured above), on the way to the airport to meet Johnson’s remains, when Trump called. Johnson spoke on speakerphone with the President, Wilson said.
“I didn’t hear the whole phone call, but I did hear him say: ‘I’m sure he knew what he was signing up for, but it still hurts,’” the congresswoman recounted.
Wilson called the remark “sarcasm” and “insensitive.” On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” earlier Tuesday, she said, “He was almost, like, joking.”
“You know, just matter-of-factly,” Wilson said of Trump’s comment. “That this is what happens, anyone who is signing up for military duty is signing up to die. And that’s the way we interpreted it. And it was horrible. It was insensitive. It was absolutely crazy, unnecessary. I was livid.”
Wilson said there were multiple people in the car who heard the conversation: “Her aunt, her uncle, my press person, the driver, the master sergeant. It was people.”
“We’re not trying to, leading up to the funeral of this young man, get into some sort of match with the President of the United States,” she said.
Indeed, Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told the Washington Post Wednesday: “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.”
Jones-Johnson said that “yes,” Wilson’s description of the conversation was accurate, the Post reported.
Rep. Wilson told CNN that Johnson’s widow said Trump did not know her fallen husband’s name.
“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,'” Wilson said, recalling Myeshia Johnson’s words.
Rep. Frederica Wilson: Soldier's widow said Trump "didn't even know [her late husband's] name" during phone call https://t.co/mG21guz4KA
— New Day (@NewDay) October 18, 2017
Trump tweeted Wednesday morning — responding to Wilson’s original comments recounting the conversation to reporters Tuesday afternoon — that the congresswoman “totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!”
It was the first time he had mentioned any of the Green Berets who died in Niger on his Twitter account.
Trump acknowledged earlier this week that he had not yet contacted the families for the four fallen soldiers, nearly two weeks after the fact. He said “I want a little time to pass.”
On Tuesday afternoon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had spoken to the four families, “to offer condolences on behalf of the country.” “Their sacrifice will never be forgotten,” she said.
During an impromptu press conference Monday, when he was asked why he had not yet mentioned the four Green Berets who were killed nearly two weeks earlier, Trump deflected and baselessly accused former presidents of not calling families of fallen soldiers. Officials in past presidential administrations quickly refuted the claim.
Trump, meanwhile, had not yet called the four families of the fallen Green Berets. And the Associated Press reported that Trump had not called the families of at least three fallen service members, despite his claim to have called “every family of someone who’s died.”
Trump also told Fox News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade Tuesday that the media should ask his chief of staff, John Kelly, whether or not former President Barack Obama called him when his son died in combat in 2010.
White House visitor records show, the AP reported, that Kelly attended an event for Gold Star families, at which the Obamas were in attendance, six months after his son’s death.
Wilson had some choice words for Trump in her interview on CNN, which
“This might wind up to be Mr. Trump’s Benghazi,” she said of Johnson’s death and the recovery of his body in Niger, events which are still shrouded in mystery.
“This gentleman has a brain disorder and he needs to be checked out,” she added separately, after referencing Trump’s tweet about Johnson.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 18, 2017