Is this one of Trump’s most outright unnecessary and senseless moves so far?
This sad and unnerving story begins with a tragedy.
On October 4, five soldiers from Niger and four US Army special forces troops were killed by unknown militants during an ambush in Southwest Niger.
At the time of writing, intelligence reports point to the Islamic State in the Greater Sahel as possible perpetrators.
In the following 12 days, Trump continued his incessant whining about the “fake news media”, produced plenty of fake news of his own, engaged in quarrels with the NFL, Bob Corker, North Korea, Puerto Rico officials and of course, played a lot of golf.
Yet still he made no mention of the deadly attack or any of the victims.
During a press availability session in the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday the 16th, almost two weeks after the tragedy, the president finally decided to talk about the deadly attack – albeit in a very characteristic manner.
Somehow, some way, he managed to make it all about him, stating he had written personal letters to the family members of the deceased berets and underlining how it was so, so tough for him to phone the families.
“I felt very, very badly about that, I always feel badly. The toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed,” he said.
He even compared himself to previous presidents, falsely stating that former commanders in chief never or rarely ever called family members of fallen soldiers.
Can anyone explain to me why on Earth he thinks the death of four U.S. soldiers is the ideal opportunity to smear Obama?
But wait, there’s more. Ohh yes. We’re just warming up here.
The next day, Florida representative Frederica Wilson gave a disturbing account of one of the phone calls after hearing it on speakerphone while accompanying the family of Sgt. La David Johnson to the airport for the arrival of his body.
She claimed Trump told to the grieving widow that his deceased husband “knew what he was getting into… but I guess it still hurts.”
She also said that Trump kept calling Sgt. Johnson “your guy” instead of addressing him by his name, rank or acknowledging that this was the father of her three children.
Trump contested Wilson’s recollection on Twitter the following day:
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
Sgt. Johnson’s mother corroborated the congresswoman’s claims in an interview with The Washington Post, saying “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.”
Astonishingly, Trump doubled down on his version of events.
“I didn’t say what that congresswoman said; didn’t say it all. She knows it,” Trump said in a defensive exchange with a reporter.
“I had a very nice conversation with the woman, with the wife who was — sounded like a lovely woman. Did not say what the congresswoman said, and most people aren’t too surprised to hear that.”
Wilson then revealed even more details of the phone call in an interview with the Washington Post:
“The family was just as astonished by his remarks. Myeshia dissolved into tears, not only because of his blatant insensitivity, but also because Mr. Trump appeared to not even know her husband’s name. In an interview the next day, he referred to her as “the woman” and “the wife.” The whole incident was a disgrace.”
After attending the burial of her late husband, Myeshia Johnson went on “Good Morning America” to talk publicly about the whole ordeal.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) October 23, 2017
If he hadn’t already done enough damage, Trump went on twitter AGAIN to triple down on his version, even if it meant inadvertently calling the grieving widow a liar.
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