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Trump repeats claim 'wacky' Rep. Wilson's version of call to Army widow was 'total lie'

  • Trump again denied Rep. Frederica Wilson's claim that he told Myeshia Johnson her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, knew "what he signed up for" even after his chief of staff appeared to corroborate that version of the phone call
  • In a tweet, Trump also said he had "proof" that Wilson was lying, but he has not yet produced any such evidence.
President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, October 16, 2017.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, October 16, 2017.

President Trump is not quite ready to let the issue of his call to a fallen soldier's widow go.

Trump again denied Rep. Frederica Wilson's claim that he told Myeshia Johnson her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, knew "what he signed up for" even after his chief of staff appeared to corroborate that version of the phone call during a news conference earlier Thursday.

"The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilsons (D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!" Trump tweeted.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said he was "stunned and broken-hearted" when he learned Wilson had listened in on the call and spoken to the press about it afterward. But Kelly also appeared to confirm that Wilson's version of the call was not "

," as Trump claimed in a tweet Wednesday.

In that tweet, Trump also said he had "proof" that Wilson was lying, but he has not yet produced any such evidence.

Before Trump called Johnson, Kelly said he shared with the president what Gen. Joseph Dunford said to him after his son was killed in Afghanistan,

"He was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed," Dunford said, according to Kelly. "He knew what he was getting into when he joined" the military. "And when he died he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth, his friends."

"That's what the president tried to say to the four families yesterday," Kelly said.

More from USA TODAY:
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John Kelly: 'Stunned and broken-hearted' Trump criticized for trying to console military widow
Trump's treatment of families of the fallen 'sickens' Chuck Hagel

Kelly was visibly upset by what he called Wilson's "selfish behavior" in politicizing such a sensitive call.

Wilson said she was on the way to meet Johnson's body in Miami with the soldier's widow Tuesday when she overheard the conversation between Trump and Myeshia Johnson.

Wilson has known the Johnson family for years. La David Johnson was a student in a mentorship program she started and she said his father was her student when she was an elementary school principal.

After Trump's first denial, Wilson told CNN there were other witnesses to the call, including members of the Johnson family.

"So the president evidently is lying, because what I said is true," she said. "I have no reason to lie on the president of the United States with a dead soldier in my community."

In addition, La David Johnson's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, confirmed Wilson's account of the conversation Wednesday to The Washington Post.

"President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband," Jones-Johnson said.

La David Johnson was one of four soldiers killed in Niger earlier this month after being ambushed while on patrol by extremists linked to the Islamic State.

When asked Monday why he had not addressed the Niger incident more than a week after it occurred, Trump responded by falsely claiming former president Barack Obama and most of his other predecessors didn't call Gold Star families.