Hundreds of mourners attended the Saturday funeral service of Sergeant La David Johnson, one of four U.S. troops killed in Niger earlier this month. A day later, President Donald Trump stoked his feud with Democratic congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who first spoke publicly about his controversial condolence call to Johnson’s family last week.
Myeshia Johnson, the pregnant widow of the fallen soldier, spoke publicly for the first time, with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America, saying that Trump’s phone call left her “very upset and hurt” because he stumbled over her husband’s name.
“He said that ‘he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway,’” Johnson said. “It made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn’t remember my husband’s name. The only way he remembered my husband’s name was because he told me he had [my] husband’s report in front of him, and that’s when he actually said ‘La David.’” (Watch the full interview, below.)
“That’s what made me upset and cry even more because my husband was an awesome soldier,” she added.
Johnson said she didn’t say anything to the president, just listened. But she backed up Wilson’s account, who had first recounted the president’s words, and described Johnson as in tears. Johnson said she had the call on speaker, and others in the car, including Wilson, had listened in. “Whatever Ms. Wilson said was not fabricated,” Johnson said. “What she said was 100 percent correct.”
Trump quickly fired back on Twitter. He seized on Johnson’s statement that he had struggled to remember her husband’s name by saying he had “spoke[n] his name from the beginning, without hesitation!”
This back-and-forth over Trump’s condolence call has overshadowed the many unanswered questions about the October 4 mission in Niger that left four U.S. soldiers dead. The circumstances of La David Johnson’s death are particularly sketchy, as he was reportedly separated from the group, and his body was found 48 hours later. In the interview, Myeshia Johnson also spoke urgently about the need to find out what happened to her husband and father of her children. “I want to know why it took them 48 hours to find my husband,” she said. “Why couldn’t I see my husband? Every time I asked to see my husband they wouldn’t let me.”
Johnson explained that she was originally told her husband was missing. A few days later, she learned he had been killed in action. “I don’t know how he got killed, where he got killed, or anything,” she said. “I don’t know that part, they never told me, and that’s what I’ve been trying to find out since day one. Since October 4.”