President Donald Trump came under heavy criticism this week after making a phone call to the grieving widow of a soldier killed earlier this month during an ambush attack in Niger. According to U.S. Representative Frederica S. Wilson of Florida, the president told Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, that the slain soldier “knew what he was getting into when he signed up, but I guess it hurts anyway.” Wilson, a close family friend had been listening in on the call, and the fallen soldier’s mother corroborated the congresswoman’s account and said that she felt Trump had “disrespect[ed] my son and daughter.”
The episode erupted into a political firestorm, calling Trump’s handling of Gold Star families, a distinction created by the U.S. government to recognize the “immediate relatives of members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been killed in combat or in support of certain military activities,” into question. The controversy has also pulled Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly, a Gold Star father himself,into the fray.
Amid the animus that’s been festering this week, another Gold Star widow has come forward and provided the audio to The Washington Post of a call the president made to her earlier this year after her husband was killed in action. Natasha De Alencar’s husband of 15 years, Army Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, was killed in Afghanistan on April 8 of this year. Four days later, Trump placed a call to De Alencar, which she took on speaker phone in the living room of her home. Her children were with her at the time — she and her husband had five kids ranging in age from 20 to 5 years old — and someone recorded the moment for posterity using a smartphone. The call lasted a little less than four minutes and Trump can be heard saluting Staff Sgt. De Alencar as “an unbelievable hero.” The conversation touched on De Alencar’s children and Trump ended the call by inviting De Alencar to visit the White House.
De Alencar described the call as “a moment of niceness that we needed because we were going through hell.”
Below listen to both the audio of the call Trump made to De Alencar, and a second piece of audio in which De Alencar can be heard discussing her impression of the call with reporters from the Post.
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Read the full story at The Washington Post.