He said/she said: Trump, Democrat dispute what he told fallen soldier's widow

“Salon conservatives” aren’t supposed to give Trump the benefit of the doubt but I don’t know how anyone can form a judgment about this without audio or a transcript. The risk of POTUS saying something insensitive at any given moment is real but all we’ve got here is the word of a Democrat. And even that’s complicated by her full account of what he allegedly said.


President Donald Trump told U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow Tuesday that “he knew what he signed up for … but when it happens, it hurts anyway,” when he died serving in northwestern Africa, according to U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida.

“Yeah, he said that,” Wilson said. “So insensitive. He should have not have said that. He shouldn’t have said it.”

Didn’t happen, says POTUS:


“He knew what he signed up for” sounds callous in isolation, like a rhetorical shrug. Can’t cry over a man who risked death willingly! But the comment wasn’t made in isolation, by Wilson’s own admission. Trump supposedly also said, “but when it happens, it hurts anyway.” He may, in his own awkward way, have been making the point that military families are always mentally prepared on some level for tragic news but they can never really prepare. Death and grief come as a shock even when the risk is manifest. You can find Trump tone-deaf and weirdly un-empathetic in many situations while also believing that he’d know how to get through a five-minute phone call with a young widow without offending her.

On the other hand, WaPo reports that Johnson’s mother has corroborated Wilson’s account of what he said:

Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that she was in the car during the call from the White House and that “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.”

Jones-Johnson, speaking to The Post via Facebook Messenger, declined to elaborate.

But asked whether Wilson’s account of the conversation between Trump and the family was accurate, she replied: “Yes.”


Either Trump really does have proof that’ll show he’s telling the truth or this is another “I have tapes” empty threat like he made about his conversations with Comey. I hope it’s the former: It’d be beyond foolish for him to elevate this story by tweeting about it, let alone claiming “proof” that he can’t provide, when there are multiple witnesses on the other side.

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