Trump was given an official statement of condolence for the US soldiers killed in Niger but never delivered it

The draft statement was written the day after the soldiers’ deaths, but never released

Emily Shugerman
New York
Wednesday 18 October 2017 22:15 BST
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President Donald Trump speaks during the Heritage Foundation's President's Club meeting
President Donald Trump speaks during the Heritage Foundation's President's Club meeting

The Trump administration drafted a condolence statement after the death of four US soldiers in Niger, a new report has claimed – but the President never gave it.

Politico reports that National Security Council (NSC) staffers drafted a statement for Donald Trump the day after the soldiers were killed. But Mr Trump remained silent on the issue until 12 days later, when he was asked about it by a reporter.

The draft statement describes the President as “heartbroken” by the news.

"The heroic Americans who lost their lives yesterday did so defending our freedom and fighting violent extremism in Niger,” the draft reads, according to a copy obtained by Politico. “Our administration and our entire nation are deeply grateful for their sacrifice, for their service, and for their patriotism.”

The statement was distributed to NSC and Defense Department officials, but never released. The NSC employee believed to have written the draft hung up on the Politico reporter who called to ask about it.

It is unclear why the statement was never released. But the President offered his own explanation for his silence on Monday, telling reporters that he planned to call and send letters to the soldiers’ families.

At least one family appears to have been displeased by the President’s eventual call.

Representative Frederica S Wilson told MSNBC that she was in the car with Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sergeant La David T Johnson, when Mr Trump called her this week. The widow teared up, she said, and told her: ‘He did not even know his name’.”

Ms Wilson added: "Basically he said, 'Well I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurts’.”

Rep. Frederica Wilson: Trump didn't know the name of the fallen serviceman Sgt. David Johnson

The President denied this claim, tweeting that the Congresswoman had “totally fabricated” her version of events. But the soldier's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, confirmed to the Washington Post that Ms Wilson’s recollection was accurate.

"President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” she said.

Still other families cast doubt on the President’s claim that he had called every family of a fallen soldier.

Quinn Butler told the Post that his family had received letters from generals – but no calls or letters from Mr Trump – after his 27-year-old brother was killed in Afghanistan. Euvince Brooks said he, too, had not heard from the President after his son was killed in Afghanistan.

The President, he said, is a “damn liar”.

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