WASHINGTON– White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that President Donald Trump was accompanied by administration officials when he spoke with the widow of a slain U.S. soldier on Tuesday.
“There were several people in the room from the administration that were on the call, including the Chief of Staff General John Kelly,” Sanders told reporters.
The content and tone of the call, which was intended to give Trump an opportunity to express his condolences, has been highly disputed.
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) told Miami ABC affiliate WPLG Tuesday that she was traveling to the airport with Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, when Trump called.
According to Wilson, Trump told the grieving woman that her slain husband “knew what he signed up for.”
Both Wilson and Sgt. Johnson’s mother, who was also present for the call, characterized Trump’s remarks as disrespectful.
On Wednesday morning, Trump claimed that Wilson had “fabricated” what he said and that he had “proof.”
Sanders’ acknowledgement that there were others who heard the call appears to be the proof that the Trump was referring to.
Sanders, who said she could not comment on the specific language used, said that the call was not recorded.
According to Sanders, Kelly, who lost a son in Afghanistan in 2010, believes the tone of call was “completely appropriate.”
“He thought the call was respectful and he thought that the president did the best job he could under those circumstances to offer condolences on behalf of the country,” Sanders said.
Sanders joined Trump in chastising Wilson.
“I think it’s appalling what the Congresswoman has done and the way that she has politicized this issue and the way she is trying to make this something that it isn’t,” Sanders said.
Sgt. Johnson, 26, and four other U.S. servicemembers were killed in Niger during an ambush attack from ISIS-related militants on Oct. 4.