Donald Trump is in another feud about a Gold Star family

Trump says he didn't bungle a call made to the wife of a soldier killed in Niger — and says he has proof

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 18, 2017 8:27AM (EDT)

 (AP/Evan Vucci)
(AP/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump is taking to Twitter to deny that he had told the grieving widow of a U.S. Army Sergeant that her husband "knew what he signed up for."

"He knew what he signed up for . . . but when it happens it hurts anyway," Trump told Myeshia Johnson, whose husband, Sgt. La David T. Johnson, died in Niger, according to the Miami Herald. Johnson is pregnant with the couple's third child; they already have a 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.

Trump's comment was overheard by Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida, who was in the car with Johnson when Trump made those remarks on speakerphone.

"He was almost like joking. . .  just matter of factly," Wilson recalled, adding that Johnson was "in tears. And she said, 'He didn't even remember his name.'"

In response to Trump's claim that he could prove she was lying, Wilson told CNN, "Well, I don't know what kind of proof he could be talking about. I'm not the only person that was in the car. And I have proof too."

She added, "This man is a sick man. He's cold-hearted and he feels no pity or sympathy for anyone."

Trump's bungled phone call to Johnson's widow is the latest development in a scandal that has consumed the president's reputation since Monday. After being confronted for not mentioning the deaths of four soldiers who were killed in Niger twelve days earlier, Trump bragged that he had "called every family of someone who’s died," even though the Associated Press later found three families of soldiers who died overseas who had not received calls from Trump.

Trump has a long history of controversial comments toward members of the American armed forces. This included mocking Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for being a POW in Vietnam, feuding with the parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan who was killed in Iraq and discussing his political quarrels with the media at a speech before the Central Intelligence Agency’s wall of stars.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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David Johnson Donald Trump Rep. Frederica Wilson