Trump Is Battling Myeshia Johnson Over Whether He Forget Her Husband's Name
After nearly a week of discussion on the phone call that President Trump had with the wife of a fallen soldier, the Gold Star widow is finally speaking out. Myeshia Johnson, whose husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, died in Niger at the beginning of the month, said on Good Morning America Monday that Trump couldn't remember her husband's name on the call, leading the president to strike back on Twitter before the show ended.
Johnson told GMA that her conversation with the president made her feel worse.
I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband's name, and that's what hurt me the most, because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country, why can't you remember his name? That's what made me upset and cry even more, because my husband was an awesome soldier.
This is something Trump denied quickly Monday. He took to Twitter less than an hour and a half later to defend himself, against the grieving widow. "I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!" Trump tweeted. (Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment.)
This is just his latest defense on the matter: The disagreement began last week when Rep. Frederica S. Wilson related the story to the press. She was with Johnson when she received the phone call from the president. Initially, the controversy was over another comment he made. As Wilson tells it, Trump said, "I guess he knew what he was signing up for but it still hurts." Johnson's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, also confirmed that portion of the call.
Trump then responded first via Twitter as well. "Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!" Trump tweeted. The White House later confirmed that these calls are private, but they did dispute Rep. Wilson's version.
Then, Rep. Wilson shot back in a CNN interview:
Well, I don't know what kind of proof he could be talking about, but I wasn't the only person in the car. I have proof, too. This man is a sick man. He's cold-hearted and he feels no pity or sympathy for anyone.
Last week Trump even had his chief of staff John Kelly speak out in his favor. "There's no perfect way to make that phone call," Kelly told reporters at the White House. "My first recommendation to him was that he not do it, because it's not the phone call that parents and family members are looking forward to." He also explained his advice to Trump on calls, which seems to mirror what Trump was originally accused of saying.
Trump then claimed that he's called the family of every fallen soldier since he became president, which was soon shown to be untrue. Trump also accused President Obama of not calling the families of fallen soldiers, a claim disputed by multiple Obama administration staffers.
Johnson confirmed Wilson's version on Monday's GMA appearance. "Why would we fabricate something like that?" she asked George Stephanopoulos. She also brought up her husband's body, saying that she hasn't been allowed to look in the casket:
Why couldn't I see my husband? Every time I asked to see my husband, they wouldn't let me. ... [T]hey won't show me a finger, a hand. I know my husband's body from head to toe. And they won't let me see anything. I don't know what's in that box, it could be empty for all I know.
There were other questions she raised regarding her husband's death — for isnatnce, as she told Stephanopoulos, that he was missing for 48 hours before being confirmed as dead.
[He] went from missing to killed in action. I don't know how he got killed, where he got killed or anything. I don't know that part they never told me and that's what I've been trying to find out since day one.
Johnson, to move on, needs more answers from officials, not more words from the president.