President Trump told the widow of one of the soldiers killed in Niger that he "knew what he was getting into," said U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Miami), who said she was in the car during the phone call.
"David was a young man from our community who gave his life for our country," Wilson told CBS Miami. "He's a hero. I was in the car when President Trump called. He never said the word hero. He said to the wife, 'Well, I guess he knew what he was getting into.' How insensitive can you be?"
A White House official did not dispute Wilson's characterization of the phone call. The White House official told CBS News Mr. Trump's conversations with "the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private."
After a service member is killed, the Defense Department speaks to the designated next of kin, and transmits the information to the Secretary of Defense. The Secretary of Defense passes it to the White House Military Office (WHMO), which also must confirm it. The twice-vetted information then goes to the president and his senior staff.
A White House official told CBS News the WHMO got the information Thursday and finished confirming it Monday. As soon as that was done, the letters were finalized and sent and calls scheduled, the official said. The calls from Mr. Trump to a designated family member were placed Tuesday, the official added.
CBS Miami reports that after it reached out to Wilson a second time, she repeated that the president told Myeshia that her husband knew what he was signing up for when he enlisted, adding "it still hurts." Wilson said Myeshia was livid and "cried forever" after Trump's call.
Johnson was killed Oct. 4th with three other soldiers in Niger. U.S. officials said they believe extremists linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were responsible for the attack.
The U.S. and Niger forces in a joint patrol were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders and were in trucks. They were ambushed by 40-50 militants in vehicles and on motorcycles.
After being asked if he called the families of the slain soldiers, Mr. Trump suggested his predecessors did not call the families of dead soldiers. After backlash from officials from the Obama and Bush administrations, Mr. Trump suggested former President Obama did not call White House chief of staff John Kelly, whose son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. While a White House official said Tuesday that Mr. Obama did not call Kelly, White House records show that Kelly and his wife attended a closed-door breakfast with Mr. Obama and First Lady for Gold Star families, CBS News' Margaret Brennan reported Tuesday.
CBS News' Arden Farhi contributed to this report.
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