For the second time in 24 hours, President Trump again pushed back against reports that he crassly told the widow of one of the US Green Berets killed in an Al Qaeda ambush in Niger two weeks ago that her husband “must have known what he signed up for”. In response to a reporter’s question following a press conference with Republican senators that was intended to focus on tax reform, Trump again accused Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson of lying after she spoke to CNN and the Washington Post about Trump's comments
“I didn’t say what that congresswoman said – didn’t say it at all — she knows it,” Trump told reporters. “I would like her to make the statement again because I did not say what she said."
The comments followed an early tweet by Trump in which the president claimed Wilson “totally fabricated” her account of the call.
Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2017
During the subsequent press conference, Trump said he “had a very nice conversation with the woman, the wife, who sounded like a lovely woman.” And yet, as the Hill reports, the president’s denials contradict Wilson’s description of the conversation, as well comments made by the mother of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who effectively accused Trump of lying when she told WaPo that the president "did disrespect my son" with his condolence call.
"President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband," said Cowanda Jones-Johnson.
Trump added in his tweet that he has “proof” that the conversation didn’t proceed as the Congresswoman described, but declined to elaborate.
Wilson had said that the Johnson family was “astonished” by Trump's remarks during the phone call, which Wilson said she heard via a speaker phone while riding in a car with the Johnson family.
Wilson told CNN on Wednesday that Trump is "a sick man" and that his cavalier condolence call left Johnson's widow shaken.
“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.’ That’s the hurting part.”
According to Wilson, Myeshia Johnson said the president didn’t even remember her dead husband’s name. Adding to the confusion, Wilson responded to Trump by saying she stands by her account of the conversation.
I stand my account of the call with @realDonaldTrump and was not the only one who heard and was dismayed by his insensitive remarks.— Rep Frederica Wilson (@RepWilson) October 18, 2017
Meanwhile, the White House communications department declined to disclose records of the call. “The President’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private,” a White House official said in a statement.
Trump made the calls on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after the Oct. 4 attack. The calls followed Trump's claims, which have also caused ripples in the media world, that former President Barack Obama didn’t make condolence calls to the families of slain Americans.