Trump Gets Entangled in New Gold-Star Family Feud

Rep. Frederica Wilson pushes back after Trump says she's lying about convo on fallen soldier
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2017 12:13 AM CDT
Updated Oct 18, 2017 12:00 PM CDT
Lawmaker: Trump Told Widow Fallen Soldier 'Knew What He Signed Up For'
President Trump speaks during a news conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Trump the candidate had a very public feud with a Gold Star family; Trump the president appears to be embroiled in one, too. The dust-up began with a Democratic Florida congresswoman, who says President Trump told the widow of a slain soldier that her husband "knew what he signed up for." Rep. Frederica Wilson said the knowledge of the comment came firsthand: She was in the car with Myeshia Johnson when the call came in and says the call was put on speakerphone. They were en route to Miami International Airport to meet the body of Johnson's husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, who was one of the four servicemen killed in an ambush in Niger earlier this month, the AP reports. When asked by Miami station WPLG if she indeed heard Trump say that, she answered: "Yeah, he said that. To me, that is something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn't say that to a grieving widow." She added: "That's so insensitive." Here's what's happened since:

  • On Wednesday morning, Trump hit back at Wilson, tweeting: "Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!"
  • This led to calls on Twitter for Trump to provide this alleged proof, and for Wilson, who appeared on CNN's New Day, to comment on the president's latest statements. "I don't know what kind of proof he could be talking about," she said. "I'm not the only person that was in the car. I have proof, too. This man is a sick man. He's coldhearted, and he feels no pity or sympathy for anyone."
  • But Wilson wasn't the only one in the car with Myeshia Johnson. Her husband's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, was also in the vehicle and tells the Washington Post: "President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband." She didn't elaborate, but she offered a "yes" when asked if Wilson's version of the story was true. The Miami Herald notes Wilson's press person and the master sergeant, among others, were also in the car. (Local10 notes Johnson was adopted by his aunt following his mother's death.)

  • Greg Sargent spoke with Wilson, and writes for the Washington Post that her involvement is more personal than initially reported. She founded a mentoring program in Miami in 1993 called the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project; Johnson not only participated, Wilson "practically raised him," she says. Politico notes that when Johnson's father was in elementary school, Wilson was the principal.
  • Writing for CNN, Chris Cillizza thinks it's entirely possible that the words simply got mangled. "Calling a recently widowed woman of a soldier killed in action is an incredibly difficult thing to do," even more so for Trump, who had no experience with calls like these prior to becoming president. That makes it "absolutely plausible that Trump expressed a real sorrow somewhat inarticulately." The problem is that rather than cop to that, Trump "always has to ramp up controversy and drama rather than play it down."
  • Myeshia Johnson has a 2-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter and is pregnant with their third child. The Herald reports that a scholarship fund has been set up for the children. More than $358,000 has been raised at the time of this writing.
  • Local10 has a profile of Johnson and shares details of his death. It notes the 25-year-old was known by thousands as "Wheelie King 305" for his stunts on a bicycle that lacked a front wheel.
(Trump also said his predecessors didn't call families of fallen soldiers.)

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