When Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) first made it public that Donald Trump had told the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson “he knew what he signed up for,” I knew what was coming. Donald Trump would deny that he said it, he’d call Wilson a liar, and the conservative media would instantly begin to paint her as just another “anti-Trump Democrat out to get him.”
That’s exactly what happened.
Donald Trump claimed she “fabricated” her story and conservative shows like Fox & Friends immediately began to cast doubt on Wilson’s credibility.
There was just one problem with all of this: Johnson’s family confirmed Rep. Wilson’s story, with his mother saying Trump was disrespectful.
“President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” Jones-Johnson said.
That didn’t stop Trump from sending White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to defend him to reporters and continue trying to slander Rep. Wilson’s reputation. Even with Johnson’s family confirming that he was disrespectful during his phone call, Trump and his administration have continued to insist that he wasn’t.
Essentially what Trump and his defenders are saying is that both Rep. Wilson and Johnson’s family are liars.
He furthered that message by sending this tweet out:
The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 20, 2017
First, she wasn’t “secretly” on the call. Obviously the family invited her there and knew she was listening. If Johnson’s widow and mother didn’t have a problem with Wilson listening in on the call, then neither Trump nor anyone from his administration should say a damn thing about her being there. That’s none of their business. If Johnson’s family wanted CNN to eavesdrop on the call, that would have been their right to allow that to happen.
Besides, Wilson’s presence doesn’t negate the fact that he told a widow of a soldier who was recently killed in combat “he knew what he signed up for.”
Should Wilson have waited a little bit before running to the media with this information? Possibly, at least until the next day. I’ll admit her rush to tell the media what Trump said did come off a bit too politically motivated considering the circumstances. However, optics aside, that doesn’t change the fact that Johnson’s family has confirmed that Trump did, in fact, disrespect them and the late Sgt. Johnson during his phone call.
For a moment let’s just forget Wilson’s involvement in this at all. The fact that Johnson’s mother said “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband” is the only thing that matters.
Johnson’s. Mother. Confirmed. Trump. Disrespected. Her. Son.
End of story.
It doesn’t matter if Trump or anyone else in his administration doesn’t feel that he disrespected Sgt. Johnson, his widow, or the rest of the family, the family feels that he did. This isn’t a situation of one person’s opinion vs. another. If the family of a fallen soldier and American hero feels that Trump was disrespectful — that’s all that matters.
So when Trump said Rep. Wilson “fabricated” what he said early Thursday, then sent Kelly out to continue to defend him that afternoon even after the family said he was disrespectful, then sent out a second tweet continuing to insist that Wilson was lying, that’s effectively the second time in less than 24 hours that he’s called fallen Sgt. La David Johnson’s family liars, too. Because all Wilson did was first report what the family later confirmed to be true.
A real leader wouldn’t have lied about what he said. They would have owned up to it and admitted their mistake. A normal person would have agreed that it was a poor choice of words and apologized to the family for any disrespect they might have felt by his comments.
But not Trump.
As always, he never admits anything he says or does is wrong — he never apologizes.
Even if that means essentially calling a Gold Star family liars.