Nearly every Trump scandal is of his own making, but the one that has defined much of this week—in which the president falsely claimed that his predecessors did not call the families of troops who were killed in action—is particularly alarming, both in the extent to which it is self-inflicted and what it says about Trump’s mentality. Over the last few days, Trump has attempted to position himself as a patriotic “real” American, concerned with the welfare of the troops in a way that his predecessor was not—all to excuse the fact that he had not called the families of four Green Berets killed in an ambush in Niger two weeks previously.
On Tuesday, Trump called the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in the ambush, as she was on her way to meet her husband’s body. Rep. Frederica Wilson was in the car with Johnson and overheard the conversation, which occurred over speakerphone. Johnson told a radio station that Trump told Johnson that her husband “knew what he signed up for,” causing her to cry. Trump responded to the report on Twitter early Wednesday morning:
Even for Trump, this is remarkable. As he did with his false claims about recording his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, the president is claiming to have “proof” that will somehow exonerate him, presumably in a poor attempt to intimidate Wilson and Johnson. That Trump would be so incredibly insensitive to the widow of a soldier who died under his watch is astounding, doubly so considering it came after he spent days making the case that he was sensitive to the plight of soldiers to an unprecedented degree.
Wilson is having none of it. Asked to respond to Trump’s tweet, she said, “The president evidently is lying, because what I said is true.”