President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he did not forget the name of a soldier killed in an ambush in Niger while making a condolence call to the soldier’s widow, contrary to her claims.
“One of the great memories of all time,” Trump told reporters, before gesturing to his head. “There was no hesitation. I think she’s a fantastic woman. I was extremely nice to her. Extremely respectful.”
The widow, Myeshia Johnson, told ABC News on Monday she was “very angry” that the president had struggled to “remember my husband’s name.” Sgt. La David Johnson was one of four soldiers who died during an ambush in the African country of Niger earlier this month. “I heard [Trump] stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name, 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?” Johnson said.
Trump again disputed that version of events. “They put a chart in front, La David. It says La David Johnson,” the president said. “So I go right from the beginning, no hesitation, one of the great memories of all time. There was no hesitation.”
But Trump’s account had already been contradicted by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), who was present during Trump’s call to Myeshia Johnson. As Vox’s Matt Yglesias explains, Trump then lied about former President Obama’s record of calling grieving soldiers and made a promise of $25,000 to a Gold Star father that was never delivered. (The check later arrived after a backlash.)
As the Washington Post reported, Trump appears to have bungled many of the condolence calls to grieving families. “In all, seven Gold Star families contacted by The Post said they have had phone conversations with Trump,” the Post said. “Most said they appreciated the gesture. Four other families said they have not received a call and were upset. One said Trump had not called but that they knew the late soldier would not want his death politicized. An additional family said it had corresponded with the White House but declined to elaborate.”
This isn’t the only time Trump has claimed to have an excellent memory that conflicts with the facts. He claimed he saw Muslims celebrating in Jersey City, New Jersey, after 9/11 — which wasn’t true. When confronted with the facts, Trump said he had “the world’s greatest memory.”