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(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — For U.S. presidents, meeting the families of military personnel killed in war is about as wrenching as the presidency gets. President Donald Trump’s suggestion Monday that his predecessors fell short in that duty brought a visceral reaction from those who witnessed those grieving encounters.

“He’s a deranged animal,” Alyssa Mastromonaco, a former deputy chief of staff to President Barack Obama, tweeted about Trump. With an expletive, she called Trump’s statement in the Rose Garden a lie.


Trump said in a news conference he had written letters to the families of four soldiers killed in an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger and planned to call them, crediting himself with taking extra steps in honoring the dead properly. “Most of them didn’t make calls,” he said of his predecessors. He said it’s possible that Obama “did sometimes” but “other presidents did not call.”

The record is plain that presidents reached out to families of the dead and to the wounded, often with their presence as well as by letter and phone. The path to Walter Reed and other military hospitals, as well as to the Dover, Delaware, Air Force Base where the remains of fallen soldiers are often brought, is a familiar one to Obama, George W. Bush and others.

Bush, even at the height of two wars, “wrote all the families of the fallen,” said Freddy Ford, spokesman for the ex-president. Ford said Bush also called or met “hundreds, if not thousands” of family members of the war dead.

Obama’s official photographer, Pete Souza, tweeted that he photographed Obama “meeting with hundreds of wounded soldiers, and family members of those killed in action.” Others recalled his frequent visits with Gold Star families, and travels to Walter Reed, Dover and other venues with families of the dead and with the wounded.

Trump addressed the matter when asked why he had not spoken about the four soldiers killed in Niger. They died when militants thought to be affiliated with the Islamic State group ambushed them while they were patrolling in unarmored trucks with Nigerien troops.

“I actually wrote letters individually to the soldiers we’re talking about, and they’re going to be going out either today or tomorrow,” he said, meaning he wrote to the families of the fallen soldiers. He did not explain why letters had not been sent yet, more than a week after the attack.

“If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” Trump said.

Pressed on that statement later, he said of Obama: “I was told that he didn’t often, and a lot of presidents don’t. They write letters.” He went on: “President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told. … Some presidents didn’t do anything.”

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later that Trump “wasn’t criticizing predecessors, but stating a fact.” She argued that presidents didn’t always call families of those killed in battle: “Sometimes they call, sometimes they send a letter, other times they have the opportunity to meet family members in person.”

She said anyone claiming a former president had called every family was “mistaken.”

Bush’s commitment to writing to all military families of the dead and to reaching out by phone or meeting with many others came despite the enormity of the task. In the Iraq war alone, U.S. combat deaths were highest during his presidency, exceeding 800 each year from 2004 through 2007. The number fell to 313 in Bush’s last year in office as the insurgency faded. Bush once said he felt the appropriate way to show his respect was to meet family members in private.

Obama declared an end to combat operations in August 2010 and the last U.S. troops were withdrawn in December 2011. As Obama wound down that war, he sent tens of thousands more troops into Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, and the death count mounted. From a total of 155 Americans killed in Afghanistan in 2008, which was Bush’s last full year in office, the number jumped to 311 in 2009 and peaked the next year at 498. In all, more than 1,700 died in Afghanistan on Obama’s watch.

Among other rituals honoring military families, the Obamas had a “Gold Star” Christmas tree in the White House decorated with hundreds of photos and notes from people who had lost loved ones in war. Gold Star families visited during the holidays, bringing ornaments.

Trump visited Dover early in his presidency, going in February with his daughter Ivanka for the return of the remains of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed during a raid in Yemen, William “Ryan” Owens.

Trump’s relations with Gold Star families have not always been smooth, dating from his belittlement of the parents of slain U.S. soldier Humayun Khan, who was Muslim. Trump was angered when the soldier’s father, Khizr Khan, was given a platform to criticize him at the Democratic National Convention.

Owens’ grieving father said he didn’t want to talk with Trump at Dover. But the sailor’s widow, Carryn, attended Trump’s address to Congress and wept as he thanked her.


Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Jesse J. Holland contributed to this report.

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25 thoughts on “Trump Shades Obama, Ex-Presidents On Soldier Calls, Former Staff Claps Back

  1. Guest1 on said:

    What!!??? No trolls commenting on this article? Even they can’t defend an orange faced liar! Oh, my bad…they’re commenting on the other articles involving Winestein (like I give a shit about another white man being a pervert), and why 19yo Malia hangs out with white people. When you got no defense comment on the bullshit!

  2. Guest1 on said:

    #45 equals failure, crybaby, bully, jealous, obnoxious, arrogant, bad-tempered, bad mood, beastly, disagreeable, disgusting, nasty, conceited, vain, big headed, little hands, crazed, cruel, pervert, black heart and ORANGE.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA equals Success, confident, integrity, respectful, compassionate, responsible, loyal, humble, forgiving, polite, self disciplined, good heart and BLACK.

  3. Guest1 on said:

    San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: Trump is ‘a soulless coward’ who is ‘unfit’ for office

    “We have a pathological liar in the White House: unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day,” he said. “The people who work with this President should be ashamed because they know it better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”

  4. specialt757 on said:

    You’re right Guest1, prior to his run for president #45 talked all that shit about Obama and how bad a job he was doing. Now he gets in and can’t get one thing accomplished. Everything he does turns to shit. He is the total opposite of Obama. Where Obama was loved by millions, #45 is hated and despised by millions. Where Obama is intelligent, fine, suave, and debonair, #45 is dumb as cinder blocks, ugly, orange, fat, and disgusting. Every two days I need a day-without-trump mental health day. Just the sound of his voice is stressful.

  5. byeuvixen on said:

    That fool is complaining about the NFL on their knees but we better stay on our knees with that deranged, more obsessed with a black man than any could be, narcissistic fool, who probably tries to give himself head, in the white house. (can’t even capitalize the building anymore)!

  6. #45 is a compulsive narcissistic liar who has a hard on for President Obama. It’s eating his ass up alive knowing that no matter what he does, he will NEVER amount to what President Obama has accomplished. No matter what he does. President Obama should be kicked back loving he fact that every waking moment of #45’s existence is fixated on him. Damn! I’m just waiting for #45 to ask President O to be his boyfriend. #45 is a little big bitch after all.

  7. This should be 45s Benghazi. Those soldiers were in harms way with hardly any protection or direction. Let’s see the republithugs investigate the white supremists got his negligence. The blk fallen soldier’s body was left behind for 48 hrs. Why isn’t this being talked about? Yes bytch ass Larry, I heard about it on CNN. damn sure didn’t hear it on faux noise.

  8. specialt757 on said:

    Notice the cricket sounds coming from his supporters. Where ya at fake doc, Jose’, hoodiefool? Defend your liar-in-chief. Bytch mofos got their heads so far between #45’s thighs you can see the top of their heads when he opens his ugly mouth.

  9. specialt757 on said:

    All you guys are so right. This man really has a hard on for our former Prez. It bothers him that he doesn’t get the respect Obama did. I know at night he thinks of ways to under mind everything Obama has accomplished.
    Here it is about 20 days after these soldiers have died in Niger and instead of him just staying on topic, as usual he veers off to make himself the main focus of discussion and look like the ass he is in the process.
    As already stated he belittles others to make himself look big all the while lying his fat incompetent ass off. Why is it taking 20 days to write a letter to the fallen soldiers’ families? And to boot, condemning others for what they have never done, which he clearly doesn’t know wtf he’s talking about, he’s never bother to ask. GOTDAMNIT! This mofo makes me sick on the stomach.

  10. Why isn’t the media challenging him on this. The President is attacking the NFL, a private entity, about kneeling and claiming the players are not patriotic and anti-military. Being the President and ignoring these Soldiers giving the ultimate price of their life is unpatriotic and anti-American. I wonder is it was because he’s so racist he couldn’t deal with the fact that one was black and another was named black and it goes against his principles.

    • specialt757 on said:

      Yes Kay, the death of U.S. soldiers are less important than kneeling during the NA in 45’s pea brain. Clearly #45’s priorities are misplaced or have no place in the upward progress of our country. He is the worst president ever. He clearly knows nothing about how to be a leader and those dummies in congress have no idea how to handle him, they just want to win by any means necessary.

  11. It’s sickening to watch him lie time and time again about prez Obama, and all these old dried up, broke down old white men stand there and say nothing. This incompetent idiot will never have the grace, the intellect, the dignity or moral compass that his predecessor have. He wasn’t born with it and he will never have it. He is so jealous of prez Obama, he can’t see straight. Why isn’t congress investigating how those four soldiers died in Niger? This is the dumb bitch in cheif’s Bengahnzi!! Let’s see those white Congress ppl investigate this travesty.

  12. Dlatime on said:

    I am so sick and tired of his F-ing Ass too. I am sick an tired of all the old ass white man in congress/white house. He has not done a damn thing sense he’s been in office. I know GOD has a lot on is plate right now, but I believe and have faith that he will come right on time.

  13. Melvinowens on said:

    This so-called president spends his Time trying to belittle others in order to make himself appear big. His behavior is more indicative of an eighth graders rather than the grown man he is supposed to be.

  14. F trump. He act like a he wants to fuck Obama. He act like woman scorned. This bitch ass prez is obsessed with the blk man. Trump is a narcissistic, deranged animal. This fool will not make it through 4 yrs. he can’t Handle the heat.

    • specialt757 on said:

      I just re-read what you said hahaha. And…he does act just like a woman scorned, the one who is in tears crying that her man has moved on. She’s sad and mad she can’t have him anymore, he’s moved on to a much prettier and more intelligent woman. lol

      • Lol. He’s a pathetic soul. Read the article that the San Antonio Spurs year coach, Greg Popovich said about him yesterday. It’s priceless it’s sounds exactly like what we’ve all been saying about his incompetent divisive ass.

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