Military widow Myeshia Johnson said Monday morning that President Donald Trump could not remember her husband’s name during a phone call that has sparked a national controversy.
Ms Johnson’s late spouse Sgt La David Johnson was travelling back from a community leadership meeting in Niger on Oct 4 along with a dozen Special Forces before being ambushed by militants affiliated with Daesh (IS).
Johnson and three others were killed, and two others injured.
Investigations by the US Department of Justice and the military’s Africa Command are looking into why Johnson was apparently separated from the others in the ensuing shootout.
His surviving wife told ABC News that Mr Trump’s “stumbling” had “hurt her the most.”
“If my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risks his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?”
Trump had responded within minutes of this story breaking, disputing her account.
He tweeted that he had “a very respectful conversation” with Ms Johnson, posting that he had spoke his name “without hesitation.”
Johnson has yet to respond to Trump’s tweet.
John Kelly last week made a heartfelt defence of Trump and the “sacredness” of such a call from the president to console a loved one of a lost soldier.
He ended up disputing Trump’s denial that he said “inconsiderate” words to the widow but confirming it in his account from the podium of the White House press room.
Trump denies Wilson’s claims
Trump denied a politician’s claim that he made Johnson cry during a phone call by uttering insensitive words as completely false.
US Congresswoman Frederica Wilson claimed he told the bereaved wife of Sgt. La. David Johnson that “he knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”
The president tweeted out early last Wednesday morning he had proof that Wilson, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives, had “totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action.”
Mr. Trump has yet to provide evidence of the fabrication.
Trump was alread under fire for saying most other presidents did not contact the families of dead US armed forces members after not initially connecting with the families of those that died in Niger.
Wilson told Miami TV station WPLG that she heard Trump say the remarks to Ms Johnson while on speakerphone. She said the call was made just before the soldier’s casket arrived in the state.