Staff with the National Security Council wrote a statement for President Donald Trump addressing the deadly attack on American soldiers in Niger soon after the attack occurred earlier this month, but the President never released the statement, Politico reported on Wednesday.
The draft was circulated among staff at the National Security Council and the Defense Department but was never released, according to Politico.
“Melania and I are heartbroken at the news that three U.S. service members were killed in Niger on October 4 while providing guidance and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terror operations. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these brave American soldiers and patriots. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers,” the draft statement obtained by Politico reads. “We are also praying for the two U.S. service members who were injured in the incident. We wish them a complete and swift recovery.”
Trump stirred up a political firestorm this week with his first comments on the attack. When asked why he had not addressed the ambush on U.S. soldiers for nearly two weeks, Trump said that he had written letters to their families and baselessly claimed that past presidents rarely called the families of fallen soldiers. Trump then escalated his criticisms of former President Barack Obama by suggesting that Obama did not call chief of staff John Kelly when his son was killed in action in 2010.
When Trump did call the widow of one of the fallen soldiers, Myeshia Johnson, he told her that her husband “knew what he was signing up for,” according to a congresswoman who was present for the call. Trump denied that he made those remarks, but the Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) has stood by her account of the conversation.