Donald Trump's Gold Star controversies get even more embarrassing

One grieving Gold Star parent called Trump a liar; another claims he never sent a promised check for $25,000

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 19, 2017 8:25AM (EDT)

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

President Donald Trump's Gold Star family controversies continued to roil his presidency.

One controversy involves Chris Baldridge, the father of Army Sgt. Dillon Baldridge, whose son was killed in Afghanistan in June. During a phone call several weeks later, Baldridge claimed that Trump offered him $25,000 and said his staff would set up an online fundraiser but failed to do either of those things, according to The Washington Post. The check was subsequently sent out on Wednesday, the same day as the Post reported the story.

Overall, the Post contacted 11 Gold Star families and found that seven of them had received phone calls from Trump, while four had not. One of those non-recipients, Euvince Brooks — the father of Sgt. Roshain E. Brooks, who was killed in Iraq — recalled that after Trump claimed he had contacted all Gold Star families, "I said to my daughter, ‘Can you teach me to tweet, so I can tweet at the president and tell him he’s a liar?’ You know when you hear people lying, and you want to fight? That’s the way I feel last night. He’s a damn liar."

The Gold Star family controversy began earlier this week when Trump responded to criticisms that he had yet to offer condolences to the families of four soldiers killed in Niger by claiming that he had comforted every Gold Star family during his presidency. He compounded the controversy when — during his call to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who was killed in Niger — Trump said that Johnson "knew what he signed up for" and only referred to him as "your guy." When Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida, who was present during the conversation, criticized Trump for what he said, the president accused Wilson of being a liar — even though Johnson's mother later confirmed her story.

Ironically enough, the National Security Council did draft a statement of condolence almost immediately after the Niger tragedy occurred, according to Politico. It is unclear why that statement wasn't released by the White House.

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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Donald Trump Gold Star Families