During a press conference on Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump made the dubious claim that former President Barack Obama and other former presidents did not personally call the families of soldiers who died in combat.
Trump quickly walked back the claim when a reporter followed up.
The President first told reporters that he had written letters to the families of soldiers who died in the recent attack in Niger and said he would soon call the families as well. He then claimed that his approach was unique, and that not all past presidents made those calls.
“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,” he said. “I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it. They have made the ultimate sacrifice so generally I would say that I like to call. I’m going to be calling them.”
Former aides to Obama quickly pushed back on Trump’s claim, calling it a “lie.”
that's a fucking lie. to say president obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA – he's a deranged animal.
— Alyssa Mastromonaco (@AlyssaMastro44) October 16, 2017
This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards. Also: Obama never attacked a Gold Star family. https://t.co/JgzTUIzWIa
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) October 16, 2017
A reporter followed up with Trump later in the press conference, prompting Trump to walk back his claim and say that he “was told” that Obama didn’t call the families of fallen soldiers.
“I don’t know if he did. No, no. I was told that he didn’t often and a lot of presidents don’t. They write letters,” Trump said.
“President Obama I think probably did sometimes and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told. All I can do is ask my generals,” the President continued. “Other presidents did not call. They’d write letters and some presidents didn’t do anything.”