President Donald Trump sent a $25,000 personal check to the father of a fallen U.S. soldier the same day The Washington Post reported he had not followed through with the personal donation he had promised in June.
A White House official told The Washington Post a check was in the mail to the family of Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, who was shot and killed by an Afghan police officer on June 10 along with two other soldiers. President Trump spoke with Baldridge's father, Chris, and at some point during the phone call, Trump promised to donate $25,000 out of his personal bank account to help the grieving family, only the money never came through.
“The check has been sent. It’s disgusting that the media is taking something that should be recognized as a generous and sincere gesture, made privately by the President, and using it to advance the media’s biased agenda,” a White House spokeswoman told the Post.
During his call with Trump, Baldridge, who is a construction worker, said he was frustrated with the military’s survivor benefits program, which sends a death gratuity of $100,000 to the beneficiary. In the case of Baldridge’s son, that sum was slated to go to his ex-wife even though Baldridge said he could “barely rub two nickels together.”
Baldridge couldn’t believe Trump’s response.
“He said, ‘I’m going to write you a check out of my personal account for $25,000,’ and I was just floored,” Baldridge told The Post. “I could not believe he was saying that, and I wish I had it recorded because the man did say this. He said, ‘No other president has ever done something like this,’ but he said, ‘I’m going to do it.’ ”
This revelation comes amid a shaky week for Trump and military families. The president came under criticism when it took 12 days for him to make a public statement about four U.S. soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4.
While trying to save face in a press conference on Monday, Trump claimed former President Barack Obama and other presidents didn’t call the families of fallen soldiers, which is untrue. Obama and presidents before him made it a practice to not only call but also meet with many Gold Star families.
When Trump did eventually make a call to the grieving family of La David T. Johnson on Tuesday as his family was en route to greet his body, Trump reportedly told the family that Johnson “knew what he was getting into.”
"President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband," Johnson's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Washington Post.
Trump apparently also made the claim that he has called the families of every soldier who has died since he has been in office, but The Washington Post reported he’s spoken with less than half of them.