Here's what happened in the Rose Garden press conference today:
QUESTION: Why haven't we heard anything from you so far about the soldiers that were killed in Niger? What do you have to say about (OFF-MIKE)?
TRUMP: I've written them personal letters. They've been sent, or they're going out tonight, but they were written during the weekend. I will, at some point during the period of time, call the parents and the families, because I have done that traditionally.
I felt very, very badly about that. I always feel badly. It's the toughest -- the toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens. Soldiers are killed. It's a very difficult thing. Now, it gets to a point where, you know, you make four or five of them in one day -- it's a very, very tough day. For me, that's by far the toughest.
So 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 am able to do it.
They have made the ultimate sacrifice. So generally I would say that I like to call.
I'm going to be calling them. I want a little time to pass. I'm going to be calling them. I have -- as you know, since I've been president, I have.
But in addition, I actually wrote letters individually to the soldiers we're talking about, and they're going to be going out either today or tomorrow.
QUESTION: Why did it take you -- Mr. President, why did it take you so long...
And that's where he left it, until later in the same press conference:
QUESTION: (inaudible) a quick question. Earlier, you said that President Obama never called the families of fallen soldiers. How can you make that claim?
TRUMP: I don't know if he did. No, no, no.
I was -- I was told that he didn't often, and a lot of presidents don't. They write letters.
TRUMP: I do -- excuse me, Peter.
I do a combination of both. Sometimes it's -- it's a very difficult thing to do, but I do a combination of both.
President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn't. I don't know. That's what I was told.
All I can do -- all I can do is ask my generals. Other -- other presidents did not call, they'd write letters. And some presidents didn't do anything.
TRUMP: But I like -- I like the combination of -- I like, when I can, the combination of a call and also a letter.
So, follow that up with this from TPM:
“The President wasn’t criticizing predecessors, but stating a fact,” Sanders said in an email to TPM.That last sentence is probably a reference to the comments of Alyssa Mastromonaco:
“When American heroes make the ultimate sacrifice, Presidents pay their respects,” she continued. “Sometimes they call, sometimes they send a letter, other times they have the opportunity to meet family members in person. This President, like his predecessors, has done each of these. Individuals claiming former presidents, such as their bosses, called each family of the fallen, are mistaken.”
Trump also said the letters had been written over the weekend, but said only they'd be getting in the mail "soon."that's a fucking lie. to say president obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA - he's a deranged animal.— Alyssa Mastromonaco (@AlyssaMastro44) October 16, 2017
Sanders did not respond to TPM’s questions about how frequently Trump delays contact with grieving military families for 12 days and counting.
No one has claimed President Obama, or any prior President, called every family of the fallen. That's the reverse of Trump's claim, and it was a lie. Which the White House tries to deflect, by saying the same lie is being made in criticism of him.
Which is another lie.
But remember: the people who dishonor our soldiers are professional football players kneeling on a football field.*
*And yeah, it'd be nice if he talked about how tough it is on the families of the fallen, rather than how tough it is on him.
And Mike Popovich speaks to the problem of Trump, and lackeys like Huckabee Sanders, better than I can:
“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others,” Popovich continued. “This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner–and to lie about how previous Presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers–is as low as it gets.”
“We have a pathological liar in the White House: unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day,” the NBA coach added. “The people who work with this president should be ashamed because they know it better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”
Geez, even Bill Kristol gets it:
“At times the president seems removed from realizing he’s the head of state, the commander in chief,” former Bush deputy assistant Juan Zarate said. “He’s ultimately responsible for these actions. The fact that four brave men died in Niger on behalf of our country fight with our allies, that happened on his watch. He’s commander in chief. He not only has responsibility to communicate to the families of those fallen soldiers but also to the country with respect to what they were doing on the ground. I’m disappointed. I’m hurt.”And now that he's cut off the CSR's under Obamacare, Democrats are going to be desperate to work with him. Right? After all, he's a legend in his own mind.
“He owes those two presidents [Barack Obama and Bush] an apology before the end of the day,” [Nicolle] Wallace said. “That’s a smear and slander, the likes of which I haven’t heard since, I don’t know maybe yesterday. But it’s appalling he said that.”
“I know we don’t diagnose him but it does put a little bit of steel behind your suspicion that there’s something wrong with him,” she added.
“He has no soul,” [Donny] Deutsch replied, matter-of-factly.
“Did we elect the worst person on this planet?” he later asked. “Any time you think you can’t go lower—I want to cry. This is not about politics. There’s something so deeply wrong, evil, soulless about this person that’s got his hand on the switch and there’s nothing else to say.”
“It is appalling,” Bill Kristol agreed, noting Trump used the word “I” 18 times throughout his remark on fallen soldiers. “It’s all about him,” Kristol said.
“7-year-olds have more humanity,” Wallace said.