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story.lead_photo.caption In this Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, frame from video, Myeshia Johnson cries over the casket in Miami of her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. President Donald Trump told the widow that her husband "knew what he signed up for," according to Rep. Frederica Wilson who said she heard part of the conversation on speakerphone. (WPLG via AP)

WASHINGTON — A fallen soldier's widow criticized President Donald Trump on Monday over his condolence call last week, prompting a fresh Trump Twitter rebuttal.

Myeshia Johnson, La David Johnson's widow, spoke for the first time on ABC's Good Morning America. In the somber interview, she supported a congresswoman's statements that Trump had said her husband "knew what he signed up for" and at one point could not remember her husband's name.

"Yes, the president said that 'he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway.' And it made me cry 'cause I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said he couldn't remember my husband's name," Johnson said. "The only way he remembered my husband's name is because he told me he had my husband's report in front of him, and that's when he actually said La David."

The president answered back on Twitter soon after the interview aired, saying: "I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!"

Monday's exchange was the latest in an ongoing dispute over how Trump responded to the deaths of four service members Oct. 4 in the African nation of Niger. The clash over the call began last week when Democratic Rep. Frederica Johnson accused Trump of being callous in the conversation and Trump retorted that Wilson's account was fabricated.

But Johnson backed Wilson's account, saying that the congresswoman was a longtime friend who was with the family in the car when Trump called Tuesday and that Wilson listened on a speakerphone. Johnson said she had asked for the call to be put on speakerphone so relatives with her could hear.

Said Johnson on Monday: "I heard him 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. And that's what made me upset and cry even more because my husband was an awesome soldier."

The back-and-forth drew criticism from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who said on The View on Monday: "We should not be fighting about a brave American who lost his life."

Johnson also said she has received little information about her husband's death and complained she has not been able to see his body.

"I need to see him so I will know that that is my husband. I don't know nothing, they won't show me a finger, a hand."

The four U.S. soldiers were killed Oct. 4 in Niger when they were attacked by militants tied to the Islamic State group. Confusion over what happened has dogged Trump, who was silent about the deaths for more than a week.

Asked last Monday about his silence, Trump credited himself with doing more to honor the military dead and console their families than any of his predecessors. His subsequent boast that he reaches out personally to all families of the fallen was contradicted by interviews with family members, some of whom had not heard from him.

Wilson criticized the condolence call beginning last Tuesday. She continued to assail Trump, and he fired off tweets, calling her "wacky" and accusing her of secretly listening to the phone call.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly entered the fray Thursday. The retired Marine general asserted that the congresswoman also had delivered a 2015 speech at an FBI field office dedication in which she "talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building," rather than keeping the focus on the fallen agents for which it was named.

Video of the speech contradicted his recollection, however. And Sunday, Wilson said on MSNBC's AM Joy that Kelly was a "puppet of the president" and accused him of character assassination.

Johnson, the widow, said Monday, "Whatever Ms. Wilson said was not fabricated. What she said was 100 percent correct."

Asked if she had a message for the president, Johnson replied: "No. I don't have nothing to say to him."

Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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  • hah406
    October 23, 2017 at 10:49 a.m.

    Well, Trump has hit a new low here. Accusing the widow of lying, when according to various studies, 70% of his own statements are partially or completely false. I guess this is what to expect from a soulless draft dodging coward who lacks the intellectual ability and emotional capacity to feel empathy for anyone but himself.

    October 23, 2017 at 11:26 a.m.

    Every time I think Trump has bottomed out, he does something like he did today. The man is scum.

  • Slak
    October 23, 2017 at 11:33 a.m.

    Even scum cleanses the atmosphere and can be turned into diesel fuel or eaten on a cracker.
    I think you mean he is lower than slime.

  • 3WorldState1
    October 23, 2017 at 12:48 p.m.

    Something we can all agree on.

  • Slak
    October 23, 2017 at 1:07 p.m.

    They are all slime. McConnell and Schumer are slime. Ryan and Pelosi are slime.
    Cruz and Warren, Murkowski and Feinstein, Bush and Clinton, Obama and Trump, they are all slime. They are professional politicians. Politicians for life are slimy bottom feeders.
    Nobody likes professional politicians. As a group, professional politicians rate lower than Trump.
    Lower than Trump!

  • Packman
    October 23, 2017 at 1:40 p.m.

    You libs are such a bunch of saps. The DNC has determined blacks must hate President Trump as much as white liberal coastal elites and are exploiting this soldier's death in hopes of creating such anger for political gain. Consider the facts and not the media spin.
    President Trump spoke with General Kelley prior to the call to make sure he said the right things because Kelley had been on both the receiving and giving end of such calls. The President had no reason whatsoever to be disrespectful in a PRIVATE conversation.
    Representative Wilson didn't just happen to be in the car when Trump called the widow. It was all planned and she was there to stir sh*t, which she did. This poor widow is now being used as a pawn for political purposes. The only person being honest in all of this is President Trump. Again, he had no incentive to disrespect the widow or the deceased in the PRIVATE conversation. Only a useful idiot would believe otherwise.

  • TimberTopper
    October 23, 2017 at 2:08 p.m.

    Packy, what do you use, tea leaves, deck of cards, or crystal ball? Do you have the ability to have conversations with dead people? Surely since you usually have all the answers, according to you, you must have some way of being the all knowing person that you, claim to be.

    October 23, 2017 at 2:29 p.m.

    "The only person being honest in all of this is President Trump."

    Thanks for that; I needed a good belly laugh.

  • RobertBolt
    October 23, 2017 at 2:35 p.m.

    Trump resents gold star families because they make his deferments appear less courageous.

  • hah406
    October 23, 2017 at 2:46 p.m.

    Pack, you have no way of knowing any of that. Quit making up stuff and take people at their word for once. If they say she is a close family friend, then she is. If it was a private conversation, what the hell was Kelley doing listening in? See, that goes both ways.
    I don't think Trump intended to be disrespectful or rude, but he can't help it that he sounds that way. He is self-centered, selfish, and lacks the capacity for empathy. It is just the way he is, tragically since he is POTUS. But what he is doing now is just mean and dishonest.
    All he needed to do was say "you know, I certainly didn't mean it that way, and I am sorry if what I said didn't come across correctly. These are difficult calls to make, and I apologize." But a man lacking the basic human quality of empathy isn't capable of that.