The feud between President Donald Trump and the family of a green beret who was killed in Niger earlier this month when his unit was ambushed by Al Qaeda is escalating to absurd new heights.
Over the weekend, Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson demanded an apology from Chief of Staff John Kelly during an appearance on AM Joy, accusing him of deliberately misrepresenting her remarks at a dedication ceremony for a new FBI field office a few years back. And now, the widow of La David Johnson – the soldier who was killed – is speaking out in a wide-ranging interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America.
In a wide-ranging interview, Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, spoke out on "Good Morning America" about her husband's death during a mission in Niger while also sharing her account of President Trump’s controversial condolence call.
During the interview, Johnson corroborated Wilson’s account of the call, specifically that Trump struggled to remember Johnson’s name, and that she felt his tone came across as “disrespectful.”
GS: There are also a lot of questions about the phone call you received from President Trump. I know you were in a car to the airport. Tell us what happened next.
MJ: Me and my family was in the limo to receive my husband from I think it was Denver, Dover, we went to...
MJ: Dover, and we was literally on the airport strip gettin' ready to get out and he called Master Sergeant Neil’s phone. I asked Master Sergeant Neil to put his phone on speaker so my aunt and uncle could hear as well. And he goes on to saying his statement as what he said was...
GS: The president...
MJ: Yes the President, said that he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway. And it made me cry cause I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said he couldn’t remember my husband’s name. The only way he remembered my husband's name is because he told me he had my husband’s report in front of him and that’s when he actually said La David. I heard him stumblin' on trying to remember my husband’s name and that’s what hurt me the most, because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country why can’t you remember his name. And that’s what made me upset and cry even more because my husband was an awesome soldier. He did what it take other people like five years to do in three years. So imagine if my husband was here now. It took my husband three years to make E-5 -- it takes other soldiers five to six years just to make E-5. So if he was here now he woulda been on his way to bein' the E-6 or E-7. My husband had high hopes in the military career.
GS: What did you say to the President?
MJ: I didn’t say anything I just listened
GS: But you were upset when you got off the phone?
MJ: Oh very, very upset and hurt. Very it made me cry even worse.
GS: Congresswoman Wilson reported that and you explained she was in the car with you.
GS: She’s been close with your family for a long time?
MJ: Yes. Ms. Wilson, my uncle-in-law was Ms. Wilson’s elementary school principal and my husband was in her 5,000 role model program that’s why she’s well connected with us because she’s been in our family since we were little kids.
GS: The President said that the congresswoman was lying about the phone call.
MJ: Whatever Ms. Wilson said was not fabricated. What she said was 100 percent correct. It was Master Sgt. Neil, me, my aunt, my uncle and the driver and Ms. Wilson in the car, the phone was on speaker phone. Why would we fabricate something like that?
GS: Is there anything you’d like to say to the President now?
MJ: No. I don’t have nothing to say to him.
GS: Your little girl’s going to be born in January.
MJ: Yes January 29th.
GS: What are you gonna tell her about her dad?
MJ: I’m gonna tell her how awesome her dad was and how a great father he was and how he died as a hero.
GS: Words she’s gonna love to hear Myeshia thank you for sharing your story this morning.
MJ: Thank you.
Shortly after the transcript of the interview was published online, President Donald Trump doubled (tripled?) down on his version of events in a tweet, saying he had a “very respectful” conversation with Johnson’s widow and “spoke his name without hesitation.”
I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2017
Of course, the controversy surrounding the phone call has overshadowed questions about the mission in Niger, like why it took two days for the Army to track down Johnson’s body. Details about the ambush, where it happened, who was responsible and what happened to the soldiers, have been closely held by the Pentagon, though some lawmakers are pushing for an investigation.
Rep. Wilson, meanwhile, has been pushing to politicize the attack by referring to the incident as “Trump’s Benghazi”.