Caught making insensitive comments to a military widow, Trump claims he has proof it is all a lie

Don't hold your breath.

CREDIT: SCREENGRAB
CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

On Tuesday evening, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) told reporters that President Trump made insensitive comments during a phone call with Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, a U.S. solider who was killed on October 4 in Niger.

Wilson told local and national outlets that she was in a limo with the Myeshia during her phone call with Trump. Talking on speaker phone, Trump repeatedly told Myeshia that her husband “knew what he was signing up for.” Wilson said Trump’s comments left the widow in tears.

The Johnsons have two young children, and Myeshia is pregnant with their third. The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker reported that Rep. Wilson is close with the Johnson family — Sgt. Johnson, who is from Miami Gardens, went through her mentoring program.

Making the widow of a fallen soldier cry with insensitive remarks is a bad look for the commander in chief. But as news of his phone call with Myeshia circulated Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that Wilson was making the whole thing up, and claimed he has proof.

Trump posted that tweet moments after Wilson did an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and said Trump’s comments to Myeshia were “absolutely crazy” and “unnecessary.”

“He was almost like joking,” Wilson said. “He said, ‘Well, I guess you knew’ — something to the effect that he knew what he was getting into when he signed up, but I guess it hurts anyway. You know, just matter of factually, that this happens — anyone who is signing up for military duty is signing up to die. That’s the way we interpreted it, and it was horrible. It was insensitive, it was absolutely crazy, unnecessary. I was livid.”

During a CNN interview conducted after Trump posted his tweet, Wilson stood by her account of what Trump said, adding that she wasn’t the only person in the limo who overheard Trump’s comments to Myeshia.

“I have proof too — this man is a sick man,” Wilson said. “He’s cold-hearted, and he feels no pity or sympathy for anyone. This is a grieving widow, a grieving widow who is six months pregnant… and when she actually hung up the phone, she looked at me and said, ‘He didn’t even know [my husband’s] name.’ Now that’s the worst part.”

Trump’s tweet marks the second time since he was inaugurated that he has indicated he has tapes of key, disputed conversations. Days after he fired then-FBI Director James Comey in May, Trump suggested he had tapes of their communications.

More than a month later, Trump admitted no such tapes actually existed.

Wednesday’s tweet also isn’t the first time Trump has claimed he has “proof” that will exonerate him from scandal. After multiple women accused him of sexual assault in the weeks leading up to the presidential election, Trump claimed he had “substantial evidence to dispute these lies, and it will be made public in an appropriate way and at an appropriate time — very soon.” One year later, the secret evidence has still not been revealed.

Trump’s conversation with Myeshia Johnson came at the end of a day in which his administration tried to politicize the death of his chief of staff’s son in the line of duty in 2010 to smear President Obama. Trump resorted to smear tactics after he was caught making misleading statements about Obama’s interactions with the families of fallen soldiers during a news conference on Monday. Those misleading statements were the first public comments Trump had made about the deaths of Sgt. Johnson and three other U.S. soldiers in Niger on October 4.


UPDATE (10/18, 10 a.m.): Sgt. Johnson’s mother told the Washington Post that Wilson’s account of what Trump said during the call is accurate.

From the Post:

Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that she was in the car during the call from the White House and that “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.”

Jones-Johnson, speaking to The Post via Facebook Messenger, declined to elaborate.

But asked whether Wilson’s account of the conversation between Trump and the family was accurate, she replied: “Yes.”


UPDATE II (10/18, 10:25 a.m.): An anonymous “source close to the president” is pushing back on the notion Trump said something inappropriate to a grieving military widow.

From the Miami Sun Sentinel:

According to a source close to the president, President Donald Trump was “misunderstood” in his comments to an army widow, and only meant to console the widow – though an early morning tweet issued by the president bypassed his condolences to tear into Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson.

“This president cares deeply. Maybe he said something that was misunderstood, but he certainly cares about fallen servicemen and women,” the source said speaking on background.

On Tuesday, Trump enlisted unnamed sources in an attempt to defend his politicization of the death of his chief of staff’s son.


UPDATE III (10/18, 11:45 a.m.): During a White House meeting with members of the Senate Finance Committee, Trump again denied making insensitive comments to the grieving widow.

You can read our follow-up story about Trump’s remarks here.