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'He knew what he signed up for': Trump faces backlash over call to soldier's widow

La David Johnson was killed in Niger earlier this month.

Sargeant La David Johnson.
Sargeant La David Johnson.
Image: US Department of Defense

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump called the widow of a veteran and told her that her husband “knew what he signed up for” before he was killed, it has been claimed.

According to Democratic representative Frederica Wilson, Sergeant La David Johnson’s widow received a call from Trump yesterday after her husband died while serving in Niger.

During the conversation, Wilson alleges that the US president said: “Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.”

Wilson has been travelling with the soldier’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, to meet the casket at Miami International Airport when she overheard the call.

Speaking on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon yesterday. Wilson said: “Basically he said, ‘Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt’. That’s what he said.”

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.

A White House official has been quoted by CNN as saying: “The president’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private.”

Trump was facing a backlash yesterday after falsely claiming that Barack Obama and other former US leaders did not call the families of fallen soldiers.

“I’ve written them personal letters,” Trump said. “I will, at some point during the period of time, call the parents and the families because I have done that, traditionally.

So, 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.

Trump said calling the families was “the toughest calls I have to make” and backtracked somewhat later when pressed about how he could assert that Obama did not do so.

“I don’t know if he did,” he said. “I was told that he didn’t often. And a lot of presidents don’t; they write letters.

Other former Obama aides joined Holder in condemning Trump’s remarks.

“This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards,” Ben Rhodes, who served as Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said on Twitter.

Former defense secretary Leon Panetta told CNN that Obama “wrote letters, also made some calls as I recall, but more importantly, actually visited with the family”.

With reporting by © – AFP, 2017

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