President Donald Trump has countered Myeshia Johnson, widow of Sgt. La David Johnson saying he had a respectable conversation with her over the phone.
Trump’s defence comes after Johnson said she has “nothing to say” to President Trump, whose condolence call pulled the grieving widow into the center of a national controversy.
“Very upset and hurt; it made me cry even worse,” Myeshia Johnson told “Good Morning America” about her conversation with the president.
Making her first public comments since she took the call from Trump last week — on the same day her husband’s remains were flown back to the United States — Johnson recalled that the president said her husband “knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyways.
And it made me cry. I was very angry at the tone of his voice, and how he said it.”
She added: “I didn’t say anything. I just listened.”
Trump on Monday disputed Johnson’s account, characterizing his conversation with her as “very respectful.”
I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2017
— Good Morning America (@GMA) October 23, 2017
Sgt. Johnson was killed in action in West Africa on October 4, one of four U.S. soldiers who died in Niger when Islamic State militants attacked them.
His body was flown back to the United States on Tuesday.
Soon after, his name became entangled in a controversy after Trump was accused of making insensitive remarks to the 25-year-old soldier’s widow.
Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) said Trump told Myeshia Johnson on the phone that her husband “must have known what he signed up for,” an account later corroborated by Johnson’s aunt and custodial mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson.
Trump vehemently denied Wilson’s account, stating without evidence that he had proof it was “totally fabricated.”
But White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly later appeared to confirm Wilson’s account. Myeshia Johnson said Monday that Wilson’s version of events was “100 percent correct.”
Johnson said several people — including her aunt and uncle, an Army official, and Wilson — heard the conversation because Trump was placed on speaker phone.
“Why would we fabricate something like that?” she said.
Photos from Saturday’s funeral in Hollywood, Fla., showed relatives sobbing and members of Johnson’s battalion, the “Bush Hog” formation, breaking down in tears.
Just before her husband was buried, Myeshia Johnson kissed his casket.
But in her interview Monday with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, she said she’s not fully convinced her husband’s remains are inside.
“Why couldn’t I see my husband? Every time I asked to see my husband, they wouldn’t let me,” she said.
“They won’t show me a finger, a hand. I know my husband’s body from head to toe. They won’t show me anything.
“I don’t know what’s in that box. It could be empty for all I know.”