UPDATED: 4:17 p.m. EST — The congresswoman who claimed she heard the president tell a grieving military widow that her husband “knew what he was signed up for” is standing by her story despite Donald Trump’s repeated denials. Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson heard Trump make the callous comments on a speaker phone call initiated by Trump, who was calling to offer his condolences.
Trump refuted allegations that he was insensitive and forgot Johnson’s name, to claims that Johnson’s widow corroborated.
UPDATED: 2:59 p.m. EST — The proof that President Donald Trump said he had to show he was not insensitive during a phone call to the widow of a fallen soldier may be that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was listening in on the call, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a media briefing Wednesday afternoon.
The sentiment of the president was very clear,” Sanders said of a phone call to La David Johnson’s widow. The media tried to make his comments “into something that it wasn’t.”
The president has been engaged in an ugly game of he said-she said with Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson, who claimed she heard Trump tell Johnson’s widow that the Green Beret knew “what he signed up for” before he was killed in northwest Africa earlier this month. In response, Trump disputed that claim in a tweet and during remarks to the media on Wednesday.
The Florida congresswoman who accused the president of callously telling the widow of a fallen soldier, “He knew what he was signing up for,” is just the latest example of Donald Trump having a nasty, public dispute with a powerful Black woman. But this time, he may have picked a fight with the wrong person.
Rep. Frederica Wilson has been calling for Trump’s impeachment and questioning his mental health for months now. Before the current controversy over the president’s response – or lack thereof – to a group of U.S. military commandos being killed in an ambush in northwestern Africa last week, Wilson, naturally, had problems with Trump’s overall behavior.
The soldier, La David Johnson, was one of the four Green Berets who died. Wilson heard the insensitive comment on a speaker phone call when the president called Johnson’s widow, she told CNN Wednesday morning in response to Trump tweeting that he had “proof” he never said those words.
Wilson said that according to the widow, the president didn’t even know Johnson’s name. In fact, Trump never even publicly acknowledged the deaths for 12 days.
Johnson’s widow, who is six-months pregnant with the couple’s third child, was filmed grieving over her husband’s casket in tragic footage released Tuesday.
While that controversy is sure to play out in all of its uncomfortable splendor, it’s far from the first time that the 74-year-old politician has been involved in news reports surrounding Trump. She was just as angry with the president when it was learned he may have revealed highly classified information to the Russians.
“He doesn’t realize he is on the brink of impeachment,” Wilson told CBS Miami in May. “And people will begin to call for him to be impeached.”
Known for her signature Stetson-styled hat, the staunch advocate for gun control first served in the Florida state legislature as a representative beginning in 1998 before moving on to the state senate in 2002. The Miami native was elected to her current position in 2010.
She has also been one of the loudest voices in the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign to rescue the hundreds of African schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram, the same militant group suspected to have ambush that claimed Johnson’s life.
Representing Florida’s 24th District, Wilson introduced a congressional resolution after the 2014 death of Trayvon Martin and delivered an emotional speech on the House floor saying she was “tired of burying young Black boys.”
Wilson has also been called a “Voice for the Voiceless,” which may explain why she finds herself in the position she is in today.