Trump disputes claims of insensitive comment toward family of fallen soldier

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - President Donald Trump is disputing claims that he told the family of a soldier killed in Niger that the man “knew what he signed up for.”

As the body of U.S. Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson returned home to South Florida Tuesday afternoon, his grieving wife — six months pregnant with their third child — could be seen laying her head on the casket.

The mourning of the Green Beret is now being overshadowed by claims by Rep. Frederica Wilson that, over speakerphone, the president made insensitive comments to the grieving family.

“Sarcastically he said, ‘But you know he must have known what he signed up for,'” Wilson said.

Wilson elaborated in a phone call with CNN. “Basically, he said, ‘Well, I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurts,” she said. “That is not something that you say to a grieving wife.”

Wilson personally knew Sgt. Johnson through her 5,000 Role Models of Excellence program. She went on to say that she was so disturbed by the call that she wanted to take matters into her own hands.

“I asked them to give me the phone because I wanted to speak with him, and I was gonna curse him out. That was my reaction at that time,” she said. “I was livid, but they would not give me the phone.”

Johnson’s family later confirmed the conversation to 7News, and the Master Sergeant told a 7News reporter that the family was not comforted by the phone call.

“When she got off the phone, she was crying, and she said, ‘He was calling him “Your guy.” He didn’t even know his name.’ My goodness, how sad,” Wilson said.

Trump later tweeted out and disputed the claims, Wednesday morning.

“Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!” Trump wrote without specifying what proof he had.

Trump later reinforced his stance. “Didn’t say what that congresswoman said. Didn’t say it at all,” he said. “She knows it, and she now is not saying it.”

A spokesperson for the White House also said that although the call wasn’t recorded, there were others in the room when Trump made the call.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders spoke on Wilson’s claims Wednesday. “I think it is appalling what the Congresswoman has done in the way that she’s politicized this issue,” she said.

Wilson later responded to say she has no reason to lie.

“The president, evidently, is lying, because what I said is true. I have no reason to lie on the President of the United States with a dead soldier in my community,” she said in an interview with CNN.

Wilson later responded to say she has no reason to lie.

“The president, evidently, is lying, because what I said is true. I have no reason to lie on the President of the United States with a dead soldier in my community,” she said in an interview with CNN.

In an additional interview with 7News, Wilson continued to maintain her version of events.

“He’s a lie because I have witnesses. They already tweeted out,” Wilson said. “If he has proof, bring it on.”

Wilson also spoke on the situation that led to the deaths of the four soldiers.

“What he needs to be doing is watching because this is his Benghazi,” she said. “La David was separate from the rest of the group for two days — 48 hours — why? Was he kidnapped? Why did those soldiers not have armored trucks? Why did they have weapons that were less than Boko Haram and ISIS? Why were they not protected? How were they able to be overrun by terrorists when they’re there to train the army. They didn’t go there to fight.”

Wilson claimed the whole situation involving the family is a cover-up.

Since making the claims, Wilson also said she’s received threats from some white nationalists. “The white nationalists are calling saying, ‘We’re going to get you. You’re talking about our president,’ He’s everybody’s president,” she said.

The U.S. Defense Department has since launched an investigation into what went wrong in Niger.

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