UPDATE: President Donald Trump responded via Twitter to comments made by Myeshia Johnson, the widow to Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger earlier this month.
Myeshia Johnson was interviewed Monday on “Good Morning America.” She confirmed Rep. Frederica Wilson’s account of events, in which the Congresswoman said that Trump forgot Sgt. Johnson’s name while speaking to the widow, and told Johnson that “he knew what he signed up for” during a phone call to her last week.
Johnson said the conversation “made me cry cause I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said he couldn’t remember my husband’s name.” She also said the only way that Trump recollected the name of her husband was because it was in front of him. “He told me he had my husband’s report in front of him and that’s when he actually said La David,” Johnson said.
"[I]t made me cry even worse," she said of the phone call.
Trump logged into Twitter Monday, shortly after the interview was aired. He essentially called Johnson a liar, and said he had no trouble remembering her husband’s name.
I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2017
Trump also previously stated that allegations he told Johnson her husband “knew what he signed up for” were false. Yet when his Chief of Staff John Kelly spoke on the matter last week, he indicated that Trump in fact did say those words.
The president is calling into question Johnson’s depictions of their conversation. Yet Johnson, her husband’s mother Cowanda Jones-Johnson, and Rep. Wilson have given us no reason not to believe them, and aspects of their version of events have been confirmed by the Trump administration.
If anything, Trump himself is demonstrating his inability to take responsibility for his own words, and to treat military family members with dignity and respect. He should change his demeanor, and apologize to this family for the way he’s been treating them, as well as for the loss of Sgt. Johnson, whose death we still haven’t gotten answers for.
UPDATE: Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Florida) responded to President Donald Trump's claims that she fabricated his crass words to the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson.
In an appearance on CNN, Wilson heard Trump's tweet read to her for the first time, to which she replied, "[Trump] is a sick man."
She also rejected the notion that he obtained "proof" that she manufactured his statements.
"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," Wilson asserted.
It comes as no surprise that Trump is denying the accusations against him because he never takes accountability for his actions unless they earn him bragging rights.
Trump's consistent lack of compassion in times of national and global crisis makes it completely plausible and believable that he told a grieving mother and widow that her husband "signed up" to die.
It seems President Donald Trump finally had the time to call families of soldiers killed during an ambush in Niger, almost two weeks after their deaths. But for one widow, it probably would have been better if he had never called at all.
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) said Trump’s comments were less consoling and more “insensitive” and “sarcastic.”
The congresswoman was sitting in the car with Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, 25 — who was one of the four Green Berets to be killed in action — while they waited at the airport for the arrival of Johnson’s body. They were also accompanied by Johnson’s two children, ages 2 and 6. Johnson is also pregnant with her third child.
At around 4:45 p.m., Johnson received a call from the president.
“Sarcastically he said: ‘But you know he must have known what he signed up for,’” Wilson recounted to NBC6. “How could you say that to a grieving widow? I couldn’t believe... and he said it more than once. I said this man has no feelings for anyone. This is a young woman with child who is grieved to her soul.”
“He should have not have said that,” Wilson added to ABC 10, before repeating, “He shouldn’t have said it.”
For his own part, Donald Trump has denied that he said those insensitive words, tweeting on Tuesday morning that the "Democrat [sic] Congresswoman totally fabricated" what he said.
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
Yet Rep. Wilson's words have been corraborated by Sgt. Johnson's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, was privy to the conversation between Trump and her son's wife. When asked whether Wilson was telling the truth about Trump's words, she affirmed that she had.
"I was in the car and I heard the full conversation," she said.
No one knows better than a military family how heart wrenching it is to send a loved one to battle. Of course, Johnson knew there was a very real possibility she may never see her husband again and Sgt. Johnson knew he might never come home again. But there is absolutely no excuse for the president to put it into words in such a heartless, unfeeling way to a bereaved widow and belittle her suffering.
Considering Trump’s racist rhetoric, one wonders whether he purposefully said the words because the Johnson family was black. Would he have told a white, grieving widow that her “husband signed up for it”?
He definitely did not say it to Carryn Owens, the widow of U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, when she attended Trump’s address to Congress. Owens’ father had refused to go because of Trump’s bigotry.
The president talks a lot about showing respect to the military (even going as far as calling for NFL players who kneel to be fired) but he is the one who is in desperate need of decorum. His own record with military families is less than stellar.
Last year, he waged a very personal war with Gold Star parents of Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American soldier who was killed in the war in Iraq in 2004, because he criticized Trump at the Democratic National Convention.
He also mocked a member of his own Republican party, Arizona Sen. John McCain, who was a naval aviator during the Vietnam War. When the senator made a thumbs-down signal against the GOP’s skinny health care bill, Trump mocked the gesture, despite the well-known fact McCain can't raise his arms properly because of injuries he received when he was taken captive in Vietnam.
He also threatened John McCain for criticizing the “half-baked nationalism” of the current GOP, stating, “At some point I fight back, and it won't be pretty.”
When Trump was asked by a member of the press why he delayed in contacting families of the people who were killed in Niger, Trump was quick to point the finger at his predecessors for not visiting bereaved military families — a claim that was a lie.
When the White House was asked to confirm the recent incident with Johnson’s widow, it replied ambiguously:
“The president’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private,” an unnamed official said in the statement.
Trump’s “respect” for military:— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) October 18, 2017
1. Trashed POWs
2. Viciously attacked gold star family
3. Told widow: “He knew what he signed up for”
Trump today:— Kanisha Jackson (@Kanisha1Jackson) October 18, 2017
- threatens John McCain: "At some point I fight back, and it won't be pretty"
- tells widow of fallen Sgt. La David Johnson: "He knew what he signed for"
But kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful to the troops..
5 time draft dodger Trump tells widow of fallen Sgt. La David Johnson. ‘He knew what he signed up for.’— Dana Goldberg (@DGComedy) October 18, 2017
I really really hate him.
45 is a heartless monster. A lost cause. He can't even respect the crying widow of a soldier KIA.— Nicki (@nickiknowsnada) October 18, 2017
Trump: "He knew what he signed up for". pic.twitter.com/GumENAvmrc
#WednesdayWisdom— Jacob Gil (@jacob4kids) October 18, 2017
Trump telling a soldiers widow almost 2 weeks after his death that "he knew what he signed up for " is far more disrespectful to the Military and Vets than taking a knee. As a Vet I am demanding Trump resign immediately. #TrumpsTheWorstPresidentEver
What kind of a person says this to the wife of a dead soldier? What breeds this kind of heartlessness and cruelty? https://t.co/LqRXocbN1D— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) October 18, 2017
Trump told widow of Sgt. Johnson, "he knew what he signed up for.” That’s far more disrespectful to our troops than kneeling during anthem.— Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) October 18, 2017
POTUS 43 & 44 and first ladies cared deeply, worked tirelessly for the serving, the fallen, and their families. Not politics. Sacred Trust.— GEN(R) Marty Dempsey (@Martin_Dempsey) October 17, 2017
Sgt. La David Johnson is a hero. @realDonaldTrump does not possess the character, empathy or grace to be president of the United States.— Rep Frederica Wilson (@RepWilson) October 18, 2017
Congresswoman Wilson also said her community is angry about Trump’s comments and called Johnson a hero.
“We don’t have many heroes in our young men in Miami-Dade County, but he was a hero for us,” the congresswoman told host Don Lemon. When asked what her immediate reaction was, she said: “I asked them to give me the phone, because I wanted to speak with him. And I was going to curse him out. That was my reaction... I was livid.”
The president is the last person to disrespect military veterans and their family when he himself dodged his war draft five times. Trump avoided fighting for his country by giving lame excuses, including one involving his “bad feet” — an excuse that was probably a lie because Trump later couldn’t even recall which foot had the alleged bone spur.
Turns out, Trump refused to fight for his country by giving a bunch of excuses, including one involving “bad feet,” despite being a strong 6-foot, 2-inch tall athlete.
Trump received five different deferments during the Vietnam War. Four of them were education-related. One, particularly interesting, was due to this medical reason.
When Johnson’s body was returned to Dover Air Base on Oct. 7, Trump was golfing.
Banner/Thumbnail credits: U.S. Army