The latest controversy engulfing the Donald Trump White House has seen the US President challenge the account of the widow of a US soldier who was killed in Niger.
Myeshia Johnson told ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Monday that she was “hurt” when Trump told her in a phone call last week that her husband, Sgt La David Johnson, “knew what he signed up for”.
“He couldn’t remember my husband’s name,” she added, referring to the presidential call that has ignited a week-long controversy. “I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name.”
Her account was, however, challenged by Trump himself, who said he spoke “without hesitation”.
Why the US President would pick holes in the account of a grieving war widow has baffled many around the world, and the wisdom of Trump’s actions was probed on Sky News in the UK - sparking a flashpoint live on TV.
Presenter Kay Burley, known for her robust interview style, was interviewing retired four-star general, General Jack Keane, about the President’s call.
The former Vice Chief of Staff of the US Army, a regular commentator on Fox News in the US, largely defended Trump against many of his critics but was “certainly not going to challenge anything that a soldier’s wife has to say under these circumstances and the grief that she is dealing with”.
“I respect who she is and I suffer for her loss,” he added, before Burley asked why he thought the President didn’t adopt a similar approach. This exchange followed:
Burley: “Why didn’t the President say that I wonder?”
Keane: “Can we stop this conversation and go on with something else.”
Burley: “No, no. We want to know exactly what you think about this, sir. Why would the president not have said...”
Keane: “I have already gave you my answer. I’m done with the conversation. I’m done with the conversation. Make up your mind.”
Burley: “So you are going to walk out if we continue to talk about his conversation? Is that what you are saying?”
Keane: “I think I have answered your question.”
Burley: “You have not. I’m asking you a follow-up question. You said you would never say that, you would never challenge a war widow. I’m saying to you that your president did. Is that acceptable?”
Keane: ” have given you my answer.”
Burley: “No you didn’t. That’s why I’m asking you the question, sir.”
Keane: “I’m giving you my answer.”
Burley: “What is your answer?”
Keane: “I just gave it to you before.”
Burley: “Remind me, please.”
Burley: “Remind me please, if you would, sir.”
Burley: “Do you appreciate how offensive this must be to war widows? Not just of the one that we have been talking about, but more generally when someone in your position feels that it is inappropriate to answer these sort of questions?”
Keane: “I have given you an explanation of my feeling on this subject. And I have also told you I think this subject is one that the more we spend time on it the more difficult it is for all the parties concerned. That was one of the things I thought General Kelly did so eloquently in providing us with the missive ... is there anything that is left sacred in this country that we have to be involved in the middle of a situation like this with a grieving family? That is what I resent. I have answered your questions and I’m not answering any more on this subject.”
Burley: “OK, would you like to talk about North Korea instead?”
Keane: “It is up to you.”
Burley: “It is not because you won’t answer my questions.”