Trump Refutes Story That He Told Sergeant’s Widow “He Knew What He Signed Up For”

“How could you say that to a grieving widow?”

Shealah Craighead/ZUMA

President Donald Trump on Wednesday hit back at a congresswoman’s account of a phone call he had with the family of a fallen soldier in which he remarked that the deceased “knew what he signed up for.” 

The denial comes after Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) said she heard the president’s call while riding in a car with the widow of Sgt. Army La David Johnson on Tuesday, shortly before Johnson’s remains arrived at Miami International Airport. While in the car, Trump called to offer his condolences over speakerphone. “Sarcastically, he said: ‘But, you know, he must’ve known what he signed up for,'” Wilson told NBC Miami. “How could you say that to a grieving widow?”

“I couldn’t believe—and he said it more than once,” she continued. “So I said, ‘This man has no feelings for anyone.’ This is a young woman with child.”

Johnson’s mother confirmed Wilson’s account.”President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” she told the Washington Post

Johnson was one of four service members killed on October 4 during a militant attack in Niger.

Wilson’s account follows Trump’s false claim on Monday that former presidents, namely Barack Obama, did not reach out to the families of slain soldiers. The next day, Trump specifically suggested Obama did not call current White House chief of staff John Kelly after his son, Robert Kelly was killed serving in Afghanistan in 2010.

This story has been updated.


We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.