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Mother of dead soldier confirms Trump 'disrespected' widow in phone call

Emily Shugerman
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If Trump kills off Nafta it will be at his own peril – and the peril of America

The mother of a soldier killed in battle has said President Donald Trump “disrespected” her daughter-in-law when he called to offer his condolences.

The claim appears to confirm accounts that Mr Trump upset the widow of Sergeant La David T Johnson, who was killed in Niger earlier this month, when he called her this week.

Mr Johnson's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told the Washington Post that she was in the car during the call, and that "President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband."

Florida Representative Frederica S Wilson had previously recounted the call to MSNBC, claiming that the President had forgotten the fallen soldier's name. The Congresswoman said she was also in the car with his widow, Myeshia Johnson, when she received the call.

"Sarcastically, he said: 'But, you know, he must've known what he signed up for,'" Ms Wilson told NBC. "How could you say that to a grieving widow? ... I couldn't believe, and he said it more than once.”

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Mr Trump disputed the account on Twitter, writing: “Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!”

But when the Postasked Ms Jones-Johnson if the Congresswoman’s recollection of the call was correct, she responded that it was.

The White House neither confirmed nor denied the account, saying in a statement: “The President’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private.”

Mr Trump has been criticised for his response to the death of Mr Johnson and three other US Special Forces. The troops were gunned down at the border of Niger and Mali on 4 October. The President said nothing about the fatalities until 12 days afterward, when he was asked about them by a reporter.

Mr Trump told the reporter he would send letters to the soldiers’ families that day. He defended his silence by claiming that previous presidents – including President Barack Obama – did not make calls to the families of the fallen. The comments angered Obama administration staffers, who said the claim was false.

A senior administration official told the Post that the White House had not received detailed information about the soldiers' deaths until 12 October, and that information was not fully verified by the White House Military Office until Monday. Mr Trump, however, claimed he had written the letters over the weekend.