President Donald Trump broke his silence Monday over the deaths of four U.S. Army Green Berets who died in an ambush in Niger two weeks ago, saying he would contact the families of the soldiers—while falsely claiming that President Barack Obama did not reach out after U.S. troops were killed in combat. Trump’s comments came only after he was questioned over his silence by reporters during a press conference at the White House with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
President Donald Trump: “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. They have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Trump’s false claim drew outrage from former members of the Obama administration, including former deputy national security adviser Benjamin Rhodes, who called it an “outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards.” The four Green Berets were killed on a joint patrol with Nigerien troops on October 4, as President Trump gave wide latitude to his generals in AFRICOM to unilaterally pursue militants across much of Africa. The four are Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright and Sgt. La David Johnson. Johnson’s body was reportedly left behind for 48 hours before it was recovered. As his body was being returned to Dover Air Force Base, President Trump was golfing.