Trying to save face as reporters questioned him on why he had not publicly commented on the deadly ambush of four U.S. soldiers in Niger earlier this month, President Donald Trump falsely claimed on Monday that former President Barack Obama didn't call the families of fallen service members.
“The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents ― most of them didn’t make calls. A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate when I think I’m able to do it,” Trump said.
Trump told reporters he had written personal letters to the families of the fallen soldiers over the weekend and claimed they had either already been mailed or would be mailed out Monday evening. He said he also intended to call the families of the two soldiers killed in action on Oct. 4. Two other soldiers were wounded in the attack, according to NBC.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said Trump was briefed by his chief of staff, John Kelly, the night the ambush took place, but until Monday, Trump had not spoken publicly about the deaths.
“They have made the ultimate sacrifice, so generally I would say that I like to call. I’m going to be calling them. I want a little time to pass,” Trump said during a press conference in the Rose Garden on Monday.
When pressed by reporters during the press conference in the Rose Garden on Monday afternoon, Trump admitted he didn’t know how Obama dealt with the families of fallen service members.
"President Obama, I think probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn't. I don't know. That's what I was told," Trump said.
Former President Obama aides did not take Trump’s claim lightly.
Obama's deputy chief of staff for operations Alyssa Mastomonaco and a foreign policy adviser responded to President Trump’s claim via Twitter.
“That's a f—king lie. to say President Obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA - he's a deranged animal,” Mastromonaco tweeted.
that's a fucking lie. to say president obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA - he's a deranged animal.— Alyssa Mastromonaco (@AlyssaMastro44) October 16, 2017
“This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards. Also: Obama never attacked a Gold Star family,” Rhodes wrote on Twitter.
This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards. Also: Obama never attacked a Gold Star family. https://t.co/JgzTUIzWIa— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) October 16, 2017
Obama’s official White House photographer, Pete Souza, posted an image of the Obamas consoling the parents of Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti, who was killed in June 2006 in Afghanistan while helping fellow soldiers.
The President and First Lady console Paul and Janet, parents of Army Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti, who had just been awarded posthumously with the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan. This was the first of 52 Medals of Honor, the nation’s highest award for military valor, that President Obama bestowed during his two terms. I also photographed him meeting with hundreds of wounded soldiers, and family members of those killed in action.