By now you’ve no doubt heard about the growing controversy centered around the death of an American soldier, Sgt. La David Johnson, a young brother from Miami, who was killed earlier this month in Niger. I wanna take just a few minutes this morning to break it all down because I think the story, and the injustice that he experienced, that his family is now experiencing and that Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who is a friend of the family is experiencing, is so serious that we simply should not let go of it.
Because Donald Trump has a pattern of making the biggest stories in the world about him, I have to re-center us this morning and remind us first that this story was never about him or about phone calls to families of fallen soldiers. Three weeks ago four American soldiers were killed in Niger. Three of those soldiers appeared to be shot to death in a major shootout. The American soldiers were horrifically outmatched. Not only that, but no American backup was available to help them, so unarmed French forces had to attempt a rescue mission. When those French forces came, Sgt. La David Johnson was alive, but the rescue team left him there.
Sgt. Johnson was literally the only Black soldier on that team and people are speculating if the rescue team perhaps thought he was from Niger and left him there on accident. Whatever the case, his body was ultimately found days later miles away from the rescue point – so badly mutilated that the family was never allowed to see his body.
Whatever happened in Niger is a serious scandal. And for nearly two weeks Donald Trump and his team refused to talk about it. Finally, a reporter asked Trump in an unrelated press conference why he had not mentioned it, and that’s where the lies began to spiral out of control.
First, Trump lied and said Presidents Obama & Bush never called families of fallen soldiers when they both called and met and wrote them often.
Secondly, Trump lied and said he had called every single family of fallen soldiers. Within 48 hours the AP determined he had not called just half of them and had even lied to one family and said he was going to send them $25,000 – which they had never received.
So the next day Trump began to scramble, overnighting letters and rushing phone calls. The whole thing was an enormous mess. And one of those rushed phone calls was to Myeshia Johnson – the young pregnant widow of Sgt. La David Johnson. And when Trump called her, she was literally on her way to Dover Air Force Base to receive the body of her husband. As is often the case, she was surrounded by family and friends when she answered the phone and spoke to Donald Trump. One person in the car was Congresswoman Frederica Wilson – who has known the family since they were young kids.
Congresswoman Wilson not only overheard the phone call, she was there to witness the emotional fallout from it. And she reported to press later that evening that Trump struggled to remember Sgt. Johnson’s name and was disrespectful throughout the call – causing the widow to curl up in the fetal position and break down in tears right there in the car.
Now, what’s happened in the week since is a uniquely Black experience in this country. Instead of being respected and honored, Sgt. Johnson’s family has been targeted and attacked not only by Donald Trump but by his Chief of Staff, retired General John Kelly.
Now on seven different occasions, both online and off, Donald Trump has called this family and Congresswoman Wilson, who was grieving herself, liars. I say this is a uniquely black experience because we’ve never seen a President or Chief of Staff do to a grieving family what we see being done to the family of Sgt. La David Johnson.
Then, General Kelly, in a rare press conference, told a completely fabricated story designed to discredit Congresswoman Wilson.
As it turns out, the only honest thing General Kelly said in that statement was “and a congresswoman stood up.” Everything else was a breathtaking fabrication that simply never happened. Thankfully, unlike Trump’s call to the family of Sgt. Johnson, Congresswoman Wilson’s remarks to the FBI were filmed.
Not once did Congresswoman Wilson ever mention getting funding for the building. The building was funded years earlier. She never even broaches the subject of money. She never mentions this $20 million line or getting funding from President Obama. It never happened. Period. It’s so honest that it’s bizarre.
But here we are. No real answers to what happened to Sgt. Johnson and a family that should be purely honored as heroes being forced to defend their own honesty and integrity. It’s a disgrace.
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