President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) of fabricating the claim that he told the widow of a soldier killed in combat that she “must’ve known what he signed up for.”
“I have proof,” Trump tweeted. He offered no evidence.
Wilson stood by her account of the president’s phone call with the widow, telling CNN’s “New Day” that she, too, has proof of Trump’s conversation. “He is a sick man,” she said. “He’s cold-hearted and he feels no pity or sympathy for anyone.”
Army Sgt. La David Johnson was killed during an ambush in Niger earlier this month. Myeshia Johnson, his pregnant widow, received the call from Trump on Tuesday.
The fallen soldier’s mother said she also heard the call, and confirmed Wilson’s account was accurate.
In an interview before Trump’s tweet on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Wilson called Trump’s conversation with Johnson “absolutely crazy” and said the president didn’t even remember La David Johnson’s name.
Pressed for said proof later on Wednesday, Trump told White House pool reporters to “let [Wilson] make her statement again and then you’ll find out.”
Shortly after, Wilson reiterated her claim in a tweet.
Wilson was with Johnson at the time of the Tuesday call and said she heard the conversation on speakerphone. She recounted the exchange to South Florida’s NBC affiliate.
“Sarcastically he said: ‘But you know he must have known what he signed up for,’” Wilson told 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.”
The fallen soldier’s mother, who said she also heard Trump’s speakerphone conversation, confirmed that Wilson accurately repeated what the president said.
“President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” Cowanda Jones-Johnson told The Washington Post on Wednesday.
Trump claimed Monday that past presidents didn’t honor fallen soldiers the way he does. His predecessors, namely President Barack Obama, “didn’t make calls” themselves, he said.
The statement was widely disputed, and Trump went on the attack. He invoked his chief of staff John Kelly’s late son, Robert, who died in Afghanistan in 2010, to continue lambasting Obama.
“You could ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?” Trump told Fox News on Tuesday.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders clarified Trump’s claims later on Wednesday, saying that although there were no tapes of the conversation, several other staffers ― including chief of staff John Kelly ― were present when it occurred.
This article has been updated to include Cowanda Jones-Johnson’s comment, statements Trump made to reporters, a tweet from Rep. Frederica Wilson and a statement from Sarah Huckabee Sanders.