- Carlos Barria/Reuters
- The widow of a fallen soldier said President Donald Trump couldn’t remember her husband’s name in their phone call. Trump said he did remember the name and said it with no hesitation. Trump said he has “one of the great memories of all time” as his rationale for why his account was accurate.
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he was “extremely nice” and “extremely courteous” to a war widow who said his call to her made her cry and that the president couldn’t remember her husband’s name.
Trump insisted that he did remember the name of the widow’s husband, La David Johnson, one of four US soldiers who was killed in an ambush in Niger earlier this month, during the phone call. Trump said his account was correct because he has “one of the great memories of all time.”
“I was extremely nice to her,” Trump told assembled press on the White House lawn prior to boarding Marine One. “She sounds like a lovely lady. I’ve never seen her, I’ve never met her. She sounds like a lovely lady. I was extremely nice to her, I was extremely courteous. As I was to everyone else.”
“I respect her, I respect her family,” he added. “I certainly respect La David who, by the way, I called La David right from the beginning.”
He proceeded to point to an imaginary chart in front of his face to outline what he was presented with ahead of his phone call with Johnson’s widow Myeshia.
“Just so you understand, they put a chart in front,” he said, pointing to the imaginary chart. “‘La David.’ Says ‘La David Johnson.'”
“Right from the beginning, there’s no hesitation, one of the great memories of all time,” he continued, pointing to his brain. “There was no hesitation. I think she is a fantastic woman, I was extremely nice to her, extremely respectful.”
On Monday, Myeshia gave her first interview since the start of the more-than weeklong controversy involving her family, a Florida congresswoman, and Trump. The interview came just days after her husband’s funeral.
She confirmed that the Florida congresswoman, Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson, was “100% correct” in her account of the phone call between Myeshia and Trump. Wilson told the press last week that Trump had offended Myeshia in the phone call by being insensitive, which sparked huge backlash from both the president and the White House. Trump spent days going after Wilson, whom he said “totally fabricated” her account of the phone call, which she was present for.
“The president said that, ‘He knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyways.’ It made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it,” Myeshia told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “He couldn’t remember my husband’s name.”
Myeshia added that Trump told her he had her husband’s report in front of him, and she felt as if he needed it to remember the soldier’s name.
“I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name,” she said. “And that’s what hurt me the most, because if my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name? That’s what made me upset and cry even more.”
Trump also on Wednesday accused the press of not reporting when a Gold Star family says something nice about their communications with Trump.
“You know it’s interesting, you folks have called many people that I spoke to,” Trump said. “Everybody has said unbelievable, good things about me. But you never report that.”
A reporter said she did report that, to which Trump reached over the rope line and shook her hand.
The comments came after a series of stories, particularly from The Washington Post and Associated Press, which reported on Gold Star families that had both heard from Trump and had not. The publications reached out after Trump said he had contacted “virtually” every Gold Star family, and that President Barack Obama and his predecessors had not called Gold Star families, which was not true.
Also on Wednesday, Trump was asked if he should “be more civil” in office. The comments came after heated back-and-forths between Trump and Wilson, in addition to Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, who have blasted the president in recent days.
“Well, I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am,” Trump said. “You know, people don’t understand. I went to an Ivy League College. I was a nice student. I did very well. I am a very intelligent person. The fact is, I really believe, I think the press creates a different image of Donald Trump than the real person.”