The Mother Of A Slain Soldier Said President Trump "Did Disrespect My Son" In A Phone Call

The president reportedly told the widow of one of the four soldiers killed in Niger that her husband "knew what he signed up for." President Trump later denied that he said that.

President Trump on Tuesday called the family of slain Army Sgt. La David Johnson, setting off an extraordinary back-and-forth over assertions that the president’s comments were disrespectful.

USASOC identifies fourth soldier killed in Niger. Sgt. La David Johnson of Miami Gardens, Florida. #abc11

Johnson, 25, was one of four soldiers killed in an ambush Oct. 4 in Niger. The incident is under investigation, the Department of Defense said.

Almost two weeks passed between Johnson's death and the president's phone call, a gap Trump explained at a Monday press conference as him wanting "a little time to pass."

On Tuesday, Johnson's family gathered to receive his remains. Trump's phone call came as they were on their way to the airport.

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Traveling in the car with his widow, Myeshia Johnson, were the fallen soldier's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, and Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Democrat who represents Johnson's hometown of Miami Gardens (it's unclear who else, if anyone, was in the car).

Wilson told CNN the president's call was on speakerphone in the car.

The president said Johnson "knew what he signed up for...but when it happens it hurts anyway," Wilson told Local 10 and CNN. Wilson said she didn't hear the whole call, but that Myeshia Johnson was upset by it.

"When she hung up the phone she looked at me and said, 'He didn't even know his name.' Now that's the worst part," Wilson told CNN.

Johnson cried during the phone call and thanked the president when it was time to hang up, Wilson said. Wilson added that Johnson was already overwhelmed — she had just learned there could be no open casket at the funeral because of the condition of her husband's body, Wilson said.

Johnson's casket was then emotionally received by his wife, who is pregnant with their third child.

On Wednesday morning, Trump responded to the congresswoman's comments by accusing her of making the whole thing up.

Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!

But later Wednesday, the soldier's mother confirmed Wilson's retelling of the phone call. "President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband," Jones-Johnson told the Washington Post on Wednesday via Facebook Messenger.

Wilson continued to comment on Twitter, calling Johnson a hero and saying Trump "does not possess the character, empathy or grace to be president of the United States."

Sgt. La David Johnson is a hero. @realDonaldTrump does not possess the character, empathy or grace to be president of the United States.

A White House source, speaking anonymously to the Sentinel, said the president only meant to comfort the widow in his call and perhaps was "misunderstood."

"This president cares deeply. Maybe he said something that was misunderstood, but he certainly cares about fallen servicemen and -women," said the source.

Trump then appeared before reporters at the White House, where he again denied making the comments.

Trump denies telling widow of fallen soldier "he knew what he signed up for," calls on Rep. Wilson to make another… https://t.co/WFcQgKaM3Y

"I did not say what that congresswoman said, didn't say it at all," Trump said.

"I would like her to make the statement again because I did not say what she said.

"I had a very nice conversation with the woman — with the wife, who sounded like a lovely woman. Did not say what the congresswoman said, and most people aren't too surprised to hear that," Trump said.

Wilson then responded to Trump on Twitter.

I still stand by my account of the call b/t @realDonaldTrump and Myesha Johnson. That is her name, Mr. Trump. Not "the woman" or "the wife."

On Wednesday afternoon during a press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders blamed the media and Wilson for politicizing the deaths of US soldiers.

Reporter April Ryan noted that Wilson told her the president didn't say Johnson's name to his widow and instead repeatedly called him "your guy."

Johnson was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group, based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.