The Latest: Trump questions presidents' calls to bereaved
Oct. 18, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's suggestion that his predecessors fell short in honoring the nation's fallen (all times local):
President Donald Trump has pulled bereaved military families into a painful political fight of his own making, going so far as to cite the death of his chief of staff's son in Afghanistan to question whether other presidents did enough to honor the military dead.
He's boasted that "I think I've called every family of someone who's died," though The Associated Press found relatives of two soldiers who died overseas during Trump's presidency who said they never received a call or a letter from him, as well as relatives of a third who did not get a call from him.
The White House says Trump has telephoned families of four soldiers who were killed in Niger nearly two weeks ago, the issue that had spawned the controversy this week.
The White House says President Donald Trump has spoken to the families of all four soldiers killed in Niger.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that Trump "offered condolences on behalf of a grateful nation and assured them their families' extraordinary sacrifice to the country will never be forgotten."
Trump said Monday that he'd written letters to the families of soldiers killed in an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger and planned to call them, crediting himself with honoring the dead properly. "Most of them didn't make calls," he said of his predecessors.
The record is plain that presidents have long reached out to families of those killed in defense of America, often with their presence as well as by letter and phone.
White House visitor records from former President Barack Obama's term show that he hosted current White House chief of staff John Kelly at a breakfast for Gold Star families after his son died in Afghanistan.
In a Fox News Radio interview, President Donald Trump defended his claim that his predecessors fell short in honoring those killed in action by saying: "You could ask Gen. Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?"
Former aides to Obama say it's difficult this many years later to determine whether Obama called Kelly and when.
The breakfast for relatives of U.S. troops killed in action occurred in May 2011, six months after Kelly's son died. An individual familiar with the breakfast for families of says that Kelly and his wife sat at former first lady Michelle Obama's table. The individual demanded anonymity because the event was private.
— By Josh Lederman
President Donald Trump's suggestion that his predecessors fell short in sufficiently in honoring the nation's fallen has brought a visceral reaction from those who witnessed those grieving encounters.
Trump said in a news conference Monday that he'd written letters to the families of four soldiers killed in an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger and planned to call them, crediting himself with taking extra steps in honoring the dead properly. "Most of them didn't make calls," he said of his predecessors.
The record is plain that presidents have long reached out to families of the dead and to the wounded in defense of America, often with their presence as well as by letter and phone. This is true of former presidents such as Barack Obama, George W. Bush and others.