President Donald Trump resorted to name-calling in a tweet late Thursday, blasting a congresswoman as “wacky” for criticizing his condolence call to the widow of a Florida soldier slain in Niger.
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) “secretly” listened to a “very personal call,” Trump wrote in his tweet, and repeated his claim that she lied about what was said. The soldier’s mother has backed Wilson’s account.
Wilson, who has known the soldier’s family for years, was traveling in a car this week with pregnant widow Myeshia Johnson when Trump’s call came in offering his condolences for the Oct. 4 death of Army Sgt. La David Johnson. Wilson criticized Trump afterward as insensitive for telling Johnson that her husband “knew what he signed up for — but when it happens, it hurts.” Wilson said Trump referred to Johnson repeatedly as “your guy,” and failed to use his name.
Trump insisted that Wilson “totally fabricated” the account, and that he had “proof.” Statements defending the president’s handling of the call by White House chief of staff John Kelly and senior adviser Kellyanne Conway on Thursday didn’t challenge Wilson’s account of what Trump said.
“He knew what he was getting into ... He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war,” Kelly said at a press conference, referring to Johnson. “That’s what the president tried to say to four families the other day.”
Kelly did lambast Wilson as “selfish,” and said he was “brokenhearted” when he learned she had listened to the call. “It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation,” Kelly said at a press conference. “I thought at least that was sacred.”
Johnson participated in the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project, which mentors young African Americans, and was founded by Wilson. She was in the car to meet Johnson’s casket with his family when Trump’s call came in, according to the Miami Herald, and she heard it on speakerphone.
Johnson’s mother has confirmed that Wilson’s account of the call was accurate. “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter, and also me and my husband,” Cowanda Jones-Johnson told The Washington Post.
There was no immediate response from Wilson to Trump’s latest tweet. Wilson’s spokeswoman told The Hill earlier that the congresswoman wouldn’t be making any further remarks about the controversy because “the focus should be on helping a grieving widow and family heal, not on her or Donald Trump.”