This isn’t the call with Myeshia Johnson, Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow, but rather a call from April with Natasha de Alencar, the wife of Sgt. Mark de Alencar, who was killed in a firefight with ISIS in Afghanistan. Even so, it’s solid evidence that if anything went awry in the call with the Johnson family, it was due to an innocent miscommunication, not callousness. Trump is gracious and complimentary here. From the beginning it seemed like the likeliest explanation for his comment to Johnson that her husband “knew what he signed up for” was that it was either an awkwardly phrased testament to his courage or part of a broader point that he was doing what he loved when he met his end. Maybe Trump didn’t say it as clearly as he wanted to, but between this video and Kelly’s testimony yesterday that he himself had made that same point to Trump about soldiers knowing what they sign up for, you have to strain hard to believe that POTUS was disrespectful in the call to Johnson.
One thing you might notice in the clip, though, is that Trump doesn’t use de Alencar’s name. Mrs. de Alencar apparently thought nothing of that but Myeshia Johnson allegedly took offense when he did the same thing with her husband:
“When she got off the phone, she said, ‘He didn’t even know his name. He kept calling him, ‘Your guy,’ ” Ms. Wilson recalled the widow saying. “He was calling the fallen soldier, ‘your guy.’ And he never said his name because he did not know his name. So he kept saying, ‘Your guy. Your guy. Your guy.’ And that was devastating to her.”
Proof that Trump is zoned out in these calls? I don’t know: He’s listening closely enough in the clip to notice that de Alencar’s football-playing son received an academic, not an athletic, scholarship to Missouri. I missed that on first viewing.
Exit quotation from Mrs. de Alencar: “It was a moment of niceness that we needed because we were going through hell.”