White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway insisted Thursday that criticism about President Donald Trump’s controversial condolence call to the widow of a soldier killed in Niger was “just the haters being presumptively negative, as they always are.”
Conway, in a Fox News interview with Harris Faulkner, also attacked “people of privilege” who “think that they can score cheap political points against a president.”
Conway’s comments were in defense of Trump’s phone call to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson. Trump told her that her husband “knew what he signed up for,” according to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who listened to the phone call with Johnson and later accused Trump of insensitivity.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Thursday at a news conference that he was “stunned” and “brokenhearted” when he learned of Wilson’s criticism. “It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. It stuns me. I thought at least that was sacred,” he said.
Trump “expressed his condolences in the best way that he could,” Kelly added.
The president initially said Wilson’s account of the conversation was a “complete fabrication,” but Kelly confirmed Wilson’s version of the call.
“He knew what he was getting into when he joined” the military, Kelly said. “That’s what the president tried to say to the four families yesterday.”
Conway also did not contradict Wilson’s account. But she insisted Trump finished the call by saying something like “it’s always difficult,” or “this is very tough.”
Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Washington Post that “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.”