Donald Trump has denied making insensitive comments to the grieving widow of a dead US soldier, claiming he has proof his reported comments have been ‘fabricated’.
On Tuesday, Democrat representative Frederica Wilson told CNN she had listened to part of the US president’s call with the wife of La David Johnson on speaker phone while she was with the family in a car.
She said Mr Trump had told Myeshia Johnson that her husband ‘knew what he signed up for’.
Ms Wilson said: ‘Basically he said, “Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt”.’
She added: ‘That is something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn’t say that to a grieving widow.
‘Everyone knows when you go to war you could possibly not come back alive, but you don’t remind a grieving widow of that. That is so insensitive. So insensitive.’
But Mr Trump has hit back on Twitter, accusing Ms Wilson of “totally fabricating” the content of the conversation.
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
Now, Ms Wilson has defended her claims, and says that she too has proof of Trump’s comments.
‘I’m not the only person who was in the car and I have proof too’, she defiantly responded after being informed of Trump’s rebuttal during an interview on CNN.
‘This man [Trump] is a sick man. He’s cold hearted and he feels no pity or sympathy for anyone’, she added.
Mr Trump was offering his condolences to the family of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was one of four soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger on October 4.
Rep. Frederica Wilson responds to Trump's claim she "fabricated" what he said to soldier's widow: He "is a sick man" https://t.co/t3sgawRKog
— New Day (@NewDay) October 18, 2017
His body was returned home to Miami, Florida on Tuesday afternoon, and Mr Trump made a call to the soldier’s widow shortly before his coffin arrived.
A spokesman for the White House earlier had said: ‘The president’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private.’
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The scandal comes amid an embarrassing couple of days for the President in which he was accused of disrespecting former presidents and killed servicemen.
Asked on Monday whether he had spoken to the families of soldiers killed serving their country in, Mr Trump said: ‘I felt very, very badly about that.
‘I always feel badly. It is the toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed.’
He then claimed that previous US presidents had not contacted the families of American troops killed in action.
Mr Trump said he had written letters to the families of the four soldiers and planned to call them, saying of his predecessors: ‘Most of them didn’t make calls.’
When pressed, Mr Trump backtracked, saying it was possible Barack Obama ‘did sometimes’ but ‘other presidents did not call’.
The suggestion brought anger in Washington.
‘He’s a deranged animal,’ Alyssa Mastromonaco, a former deputy chief of staff to Mr Obama, tweeted about Mr Trump, calling his statement a lie.
He was also branded a ‘fat, f***ing liar’ by the sister of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq.
George W Bush ‘wrote all the families of the fallen’, said Freddy Ford, the spokesman for the ex-president.
Mr Ford said Mr Bush also called or met ‘hundreds, if not thousands’ of family members of the war dead.
Mr Obama’s official photographer, Pete Souza, tweeted that he photographed Mr Obama ‘meeting with hundreds of wounded soldiers, and family members of those killed in action’.