President Donald Trump's chief of staff says he is "stunned" and "broken hearted" by the criticism of Trump's call to the family of an Army sergeant killed in Niger.
John Kelly told reporters at the White House that the president had expressed his condolences "in the best way that he could."
The aunt of an Army sergeant killed in Niger said Trump showed "disrespect" to the soldier's loved ones as he telephoned them to extend condolences as they drove to a Miami airport to receive his body.
Florida Democrat Rep. Frederica Wilson said Trump had told the widow that "you know that this could happen when you signed up for it ... but it still hurts."
Trump has rejected claims he was disrespectful to the grieving family of a slain soldier. But the firestorm he ignited over his assertions of empathy for American service members spread into a third contentious day.
After one slain soldier's father accused the president of going back on a promise to send a check for $25,000, the White House said the money had been sent.
Kelly, a retired Marine general whose son was killed in Afghanistan, was left angry and frustrated at the way the issue has become politicized.