President Donald Trump again Wednesday defended his condolence call to a Gold Star widow and disputed her contention that he seemed not to know her fallen husband's name.
Trump said he used the correct name of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger, "right from the beginning" in his phone call last week to Myeshia Johnson, Sgt. Johnson's pregnant widow.
"One of the great memories of all time," the president said, pointing at his head with his left hand. "There's no hesitation."
"I was extremely nice to her," Trump said of Myeshia Johnson. "She sounds like a lovely lady. I've never seen her. I've never met her, but she sounds like a lovely lady. But I was extremely nice to her. I was extremely courteous, as I was to everyone else" in the four families of soldiers who were killed in the Oct. 4 incident.
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In addition to Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, the attack killed Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia.
In her version of the Trump phone call, Myeshia Johnson, 24, said in an interview Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America" that "I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband's name."
She continued, "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?
"And that's what made me upset and cry even more, because my husband was an awesome soldier," she added.
Shortly after Myeshia Johnson's interview aired, Trump sent out a Tweet: "I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation."
On the White House lawn Wednesday, before leaving for a Texas fundraiser, Trump told reporters that he knew he got the name right because it was on a chart before him, apparently prepared by the White House staff.
"I can only say this: I was really nice to her. I respect her. I respect her family," he said. "I certainly respect La David, who -- I, by the way, called La David right from the beginning. Just so you understand, they put a chart in front -- 'La David,' it says, 'La David Johnson.'"
"They pour their heart out," Trump said of the families he's spoken to in condolence calls. "It's the hardest calls. But I am always -- and look, you people have called many people that I've spoken to, and every one of them has said I couldn't have been nicer.
"Now, it's a rough time for these people. I mean, how tough is it? There's nothing tougher. But I have such respect for those families. Nobody has more respect than I do -- nobody," he said.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.