White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Chief of Staff John Kelly was “disgusted” by the politicization of the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in Niger.
“I think that General Kelly is disgusted by the way that this has been politicized and that the focus has become on the process, and not the fact that American lives were lost, I think he’s disgusted and frustrated by that,” Sanders said. “If he has any anger, it’s towards that.”
NBC reporter Peter Alexander asked Sanders about President Donald Trump’s suggestion that reporters ask Kelly, a Gold Star father whose son Robert died in Afghanistan in 2010, if President Barack Obama ever called him to express sympathy. Trump had suggested his predecessor did not make phone calls to the family members of fallen soldiers.
Sanders said Kelly and Trump had spoken several times, but she could not say whether Kelly knew Trump would invoke his son in the debate.
Sanders was also pressed about claims that Trump was unsympathetic in his phone call Tuesday with Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed along with three other solders in the Niger ambush earlier this month.
Trump called Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s widow, Myeshia, on Tuesday as she was traveling with Wilson and others to meet the body of her slain husband at a ceremonial homecoming at Miami International Airport. He was killed on Oct. 4 during a joint mission with the Niger military in west Africa where he and three other men were ambushed.
“He said, ‘But you know he must’ve known what he signed up for,’” the Democrat recounted Trump saying.
“Everyone knows when you go to war you could possibly not come back alive but you don’t remind a grieving widow of that,” Wilson said. “That’s so insensitive.”
Sanders said Trump’s call was respectful and expressed condolences on behalf of the country for Sgt. Johnson’s sacrifice.
“I think it frankly is a disgrace of the media to try to portray an act of kindness like that and that gesture and try to make it into something that it isn’t,” he said.
Wilson said in a separate interview on “The View” on Wednesday that Trump was a “liar” and the deaths of the servicemen in Niger were his “Benghazi.”
Watch Huckabee Sanders defend the President below.