President Donald Trump doubled down on claims that former President Barack Obama failed to call and console parents of fallen soldiers on Tuesday, using the combat death of Chief of Staff John Kelly’s son as an example.
Marine 2nd Lt. Robert Kelly was killed in Afghanistan in 2010 while leading a patrol in Sangin according to USA Today. The president told Fox News radio host Brian Kilmeade on Tuesday morning that Obama never called Kelly.
“To the best of my knowledge, I think I’ve called every family of somebody that’s died,” Trump said. “As far as other representatives, I don’t know, I mean you could ask Gen. Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?”
Trump's full answer on calling dead soldiers/Obama/Kelly's son: "This was fake news by CNN. I mean, they're just a bunch of fakers" pic.twitter.com/ggKAfDMoEJ
— David Mack (@davidmackau) October 17, 2017
White House visitor logs, meanwhile, show Kelly attended a breakfast for Gold Star families hosted by the Obamas six months after his son’s death, according to the Associated Press. The Kelly family reportedly sat at a table with then First Lady Michelle Obama at the private event.
The president made unsubstantiated claims on Monday that former President Barack Obama and other past presidents did not call the families of soldiers who died in combat after he was asked about American soldiers killed in Niger during a White House press conference.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee weighed, asserting the presidents claims are fact.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) October 16, 2017
Obama administration officials reacted angrily to Trump’s original comments and his statements on Kelly’s son. Alyssa Mastromonaco, an Obama deputy chief of staff who called out Trump’s assertion on Monday, told the Daily Beast that she was “traumatized” by the president’s remarks.
“This debate is so sad,” Tommy Vietor, who worked on the 2008 Obama campaign and later served as a National Security Council spokesman, told the Daily Beast on Tuesday. “People should read the speech Gen. Kelly gave at the service of two Marines who died shortly after his son did. I think that’s the tone we should use when we talk about fallen service members. We shouldn’t politicize these things.”
H/T the Daily Beast