President Donald Trump’s comments to a widow of one of the U.S. Special Forces soldiers killed in Niger has spawned heavy criticism after he told her, “he knew what he signed up for.”
Trump’s remarks were shared by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D. Fla.) Tuesday (Oct. 16) after the president called Myeshia Johnson, Sgt. La David Johnson’s wife. The 25-year-old was one of the four soldiers who died in a enemy ambush on Oct. 4. While heading to the Miami International Airport to meet his casket, Johnson received the call. As her family members and Wilson listened, Trump reportedly told Johnson, “heknew what he signed up for… but when it happens it hurts anyway.”
“That is what stood out in everyone’s heart,” she said to local ABC news affiliate WPLG . “You don’t say that. He is the President of the United States. This is a soldier who gave his life for his country. He is a hero in our minds, in our community’s minds. That is an insult to the entire Miami Gardens community, to the entire District 24, to Miami Dade county and to this nation. And I hope he didn’t say that to the other three families.”
Wilson knew Johnson through her 5,000 Role Models of Excellence program she founded in 1993, reports The Miami Herald. Johnson was seen as a leader in his community of Dade County, an area with a reputation of violence. While she wasn’t expecting Trump to know of Johnson’s legacy, Wilson did inform reporters that he didn’t say his name during his five minute call to his widow.
Trump has since denied the remarks, tweeting that Wilson fabricated his remarks. “The president’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private,” the White House said in a statement.
Wilson says she doesn’t have a reason to lie on the president. Instead, her efforts have been used to find justice for the the solider’s family. In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, Wilson says the deaths of the soldiers carry a similar tone to the 2012 Benghazi attack.
A GoFundMe was created to help care for the education efforts for Johnson’s six-year-old daughter and two-year-old son and unborn child. It has raised over $250,000.
UPDATE: 10/18/17 11:15 AM EST
The Defense Department is now planning to open an investigation into the deaths of the U.S. soldiers who were killed earlier this month. Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, and Sgt. La David Johnson died after their unarmed vehicle was ambushed by 50 ISIS-affiliated fighters “armed with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades,” TIME reports.
The military will be analyzed over their practices and why Johnson’s body was separated from the group. His body was found 48 hours after the attack.
In the midst of honorable odes to the men, a GoFundMe has been created for Sgt. Dustin Wright. in just a few hours, it has raised over $8,000.