President Trump is refusing to clarify his false claim that former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama did not call all of the families of fallen U.S. soldiers.
“There’s nothing to clarify,” Trump said in a Fox News Radio interview on Tuesday. “I think I’ve called every family of somebody that’s died, and it’s the hardest call to make. And I said it very loud and clear yesterday. The hardest thing for me to do is do that. Now, as far as other representatives, I don’t know. I mean, you could ask Gen. Kelly did he get a call from Obama. You could ask other people. I don’t know what Obama’s policy was. I write letters, and I also call.”
Kelly’s son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Michael Kelly, died while serving in Afghanistan in 2010. John Kelly, a retired Marine general, is the highest-ranking military officer to lose a child in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Trump said he believes he has called every grieving military family during his first nine months in office.
“I have called — I believe — everybody, but certainly I’ll use the word virtually everybody,” Trump said. “I don’t know what Bush did; I don’t know what Obama did. You could find out easily what President Obama did. All you have to do is ask the military people, but I believe his policy was somewhat different than my policy.”
The president sparked a fury of criticism during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden on Monday when he was asked whether he had made contact with the families of four soldiers killed in an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger. Trump said that he had written letters and planned to call them — suggesting his predecessors did not do both.
“If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” Trump said. “I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it.”
Later, when pressed, Trump said he wasn’t sure what Obama did.
“I was told that he didn’t often, and a lot of presidents don’t. They write letters,” Trump said. “President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told. … Some presidents didn’t do anything.”
Trump’s Rose Garden remarks were met by›››››››››› immediate backlash from former top Obama officials.
“That’s a f***ing lie,” Alyssa Mastromonaco, Obama’s former deputy chief of staff, wrote on Twitter. “He’s a deranged animal.”
that's a fucking lie. to say president obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA – he's a deranged animal.
— Alyssa Mastromonaco (@AlyssaMastro44) October 16, 2017
“Stop the damn lying — you’re the President,” Eric Holder, Obama’s attorney general, tweeted. “I went to Dover AFB with 44 and saw him comfort the families of both the fallen military & DEA.”
Stop the damn lying – you’re the President. I went to Dover AFB with 44 and saw him comfort the families of both the fallen military & DEA. pic.twitter.com/HhE4KbTBkJ
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) October 17, 2017
On Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted that Trump wasn’t lying but “stating a fact.”
“Sometimes they call, sometimes they send a letter; other times they have the opportunity to meet family members in person,” Sanders said.
“President Trump’s claim is wrong,” a former Obama White House official said in a statement to Yahoo News. “President Obama engaged families of the fallen and wounded warriors throughout his presidency through calls, letters, visits to Section 60 at Arlington, visits to Walter Reed, visits to Dover, and regular meetings with Gold Star Families at the White House and across the country.”
“This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards,” Ben Rhodes, Obama’s foreign policy adviser, tweeted.
This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards. Also: Obama never attacked a Gold Star family. https://t.co/JgzTUIzWIa
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) October 16, 2017
Following his latest remarks, Delilia O’Malley, whose brother was killed while serving in the Iraq War, also tweeted her disgust.
“’When my brother was killed, Pres Bush listened while I screamed at him & then held me as I sobbed, you fat f***ing liar.”
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