UPDATED 12:25 p.m. with additional comments and corrections:
WASHINGTON D.C. - President Donald Trump fired back at those who say he spoke rudely to the widow of a serviceman on Tuesday.
"I didn't say what that congresswoman said; didn't say it all. She knows it. And she now is not saying it. I did not say what she said, and I’d like her to make the statement again because I did not say what she said. I had a very nice conversation with the woman, with the wife who was - sounded like a lovely woman. Did not say what the congresswoman said, and most people aren’t too surprised to hear that," Trump said in a pool spray following a Senate Finance meeting today.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Fla) said in an interview that Trump told the widow of a serviceman killed in Niger that "he knew what he signed up for."
The mother of the serviceman also said the president disrespected the dead soldier."President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband," Cawanda Jones-Johnson told The Washington Post
"This president cares deeply. Maybe he said something that was misunderstood, but he certainly cares about fallen servicemen and women," the source said speaking on background.
It is the first indication from anyone in the administration the president misspoke when speaking with U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow Tuesday.
President Donald Trump tweeted “Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!
Trump’s call to Myeshia Johnson’s, who is pregnant and mother to his surviving two-year-old son and six-year-old daughter came at 4:45 p.m. before Johnson’s remains arrived at Miami International Airport on a commercial flight.
The President’s actions came after reporters in the White House press corps pressed the president Monday on why he had yet to reach out to the family of soldiers recently killed in Niger.
Saying former President Obama failed to call the family of killed servicemen, Trump walked that remark back after NBC reporter Peter Alexander pressed him on the issue.
"I will, at some point, during the period of time, call the parents and the families, because I have done that, traditionally," Trump said during a joint news conference with Senator Mitch McConnell Monday on the back steps of the Oval Office outside of the Rose Garden.
"I probably would have hung up on him," Christina Ayube said bluntly.
Ayube, a Gold-Star mother from Salem, Mass. lost her son, Army Sgt. James Ayube December 8, 2010.
Sgt. Ayube, an army medic was on patrol when an elderly man approached him and another soldier and detonated a suicide bomb that also killed the two soldiers.
"President Obama was there when the remains returned to Dover and he saluted his casket," Ayube said. "I got a letter and a personal note from him later," she added.
"My son was a medic. He didn't sign up for that," Ayube said in response to the president's comments about Johnson. "I somewhat hoped when this president took office he would realize the gravity of his job and wouldn't act so juvenile. It's either he has no empathy or he just thinks he's above us all and we're here for his pleasure."
After the president’s tweet Tuesday, The Sentinel obtained information regarding the telephone call which prompted the outcry.
According to notes taken of the conversation involving Wilson it began shortly after 8:14 p.m. about three hours after the President called Johnson. Congresswoman Wilson said the president told the widow, “Even though he knew what he signed up for it still hurts.”
“Why would you say that to the grieving widow,” Wilson said. “So everbody who signs up for war is signing up to die? It’s like he’s blaming the victim.”
According to Wilson, Johnson “. . . was livid. She cried forever. She was shaking her head and crying.”
Wilson then said she became irate herself. “I said, ‘let me speak to him. Let me speak to him,” she said. “But they wouldn’t let me speak to him.”
Johnson died on a mission with U.S. Army Special Forces in Northwest Africa after being ambushed by Islamic militants using rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. Four men died in the ambush, and according to previously published reports, the team reportedly didn't have overhead armed air cover and was in unarmored pickup trucks.
The President's tweet also prompted a response from Karen Meredith, the Gold Star and Military Families coordinator for VoteVets, who lost her son, First Lieutenant Ken Ballard, in Iraq. “Mr. Trump, stop. Please, just stop. Your actions and words on this entire matter of the fallen in Niger is disgraceful, and unbecoming of a President of the United States and Commander in Chief. This is not about you, it is about them. It is about all of us who lost our loved ones, in war. For once in your life, please stop making everything about you. For once in your life, at least pretend to know what empathy is. For once in your life, at least try to care about other people and their feelings.”