Wednesday, 18 October 2017 17:39
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President Trump spoke at a meeting of the Heritage Foundation’s President’s Club on Tuesday in Washington. President Trump spoke at a meeting of the Heritage Foundation’s President’s Club on Tuesday in Washington.

WASHINGTON — President Trump has denied a congresswoman’s account that he told a grieving soldier’s widow in a phone call that the soldier “knew what he signed up for,” saying on Wednesday that the Democratic representative’s description was “totally fabricated.”

Representative Frederica Wilson, Democrat of Florida, recounted details of Mr. Trump’s call with Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s widow. On Tuesday, Ms. Wilson was in the car with the widow, Myeshia Johnson, and said she overheard the phone call from the president, who was on speakerphone. Sergeant Johnson, a Green Beret, was killed in an ambush in Niger earlier this month that killed three other soldiers and injured two.

Ms. Wilson said that during the call, the president told Ms. Johnson “something to the fact that he knew what he was getting into when he signed up,” the congresswoman said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday.

“But that’s not the worst part,” Ms. Wilson said. “She was crying the whole time and when she hung up the phone she looked at me and said ‘he didn’t even remember his name.’ That’s the hurting part.”

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Mr. Trump’s comments were the latest in a series of remarks he made this week drawing attention to grieving families of fallen solders.

Mr. Trump did not say what proof he had.

Ms. Wilson said she stood by her description of the call.

“I don’t know what kind of proof he could be talking about,” Ms. Wilson said on CNN’s “New Day.”

She added, “I have proof, too.”

Later on Wednesday morning, Ms. Wilson pushed back against the president in a Twitter post.

Sergeant Johnson, 25, was from Miami Gardens, Fla., the Defense Department said. He and Ms. Johnson had two children, and Ms. Johnson is pregnant. The Pentagon has launched an investigation into the ambush in Niger.

Mr. Trump has said very little about the Niger episode. When he was asked by a reporter about this on Monday, he responded by saying he had written letters to the soldiers’ families. Mr. Trump compared his actions to past presidents and said past presidents have not always contacted families of those killed in action.

Mr. Trump singled out former President Barack Obama, saying he had not made such calls, an assertion that quickly drew angry rebukes from former Obama aides.

In a radio interview on Tuesday, Mr. Trump suggested that Mr. Obama never called John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general and now the White House chief of staff, when his son died in Afghanistan in 2010.

“You could ask General Kelly, ‘Did he get a call from Obama?’ ” Mr. Trump said in an interview on Fox News Radio. “I believe his policy was somewhat different than my policy. I can tell you my policy is I called every one of them.”

Mr. Trump’s tweet rebutting Ms. Wilson’s account of the phone call was his sixth Twitter post on Wednesday morning and came after Ms. Wilson’s description was discussed on morning news shows. Mr. Trump often takes to Twitter with reactions to what he sees on television.

Mr. Trump’s first Twitter posts were about the former F.B.I. director, James Comey, as well as about his Democratic opponent in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, and the ongoing debate about professional football players kneeling during the national anthem.

“Total disrespect for our great country,” Mr. Trump wrote on Wednesday, referring to the football players.

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