President Donald Trump seemed to double down on his claim that former President Barack Obama didn’t call the families of American soldiers killed in combat.
“You can ask General Kelly. Did he get a call from Obama?” Trump told “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade during an interview on Tuesday.
Presumably, Trump was referring to Kelly’s son, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.
“I don’t know what Obama’s policy was,” Trump told Kilmeade. “I write letters and I also call.”
During a press conference on Monday, Trump at first suggested that Obama did not call Gold Star families when he was president after a reporter asked whether Trump had reached out to the families of those killed in a special forces raid in Niger.
“President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” Trump added. “I call when it’s appropriate.”
Numerous Obama administration officials condemned Trump’s comments, taking to social media to insist that he had called and met with the families of fallen soldiers.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders attempted to clarify Trump’s comments on Monday evening, saying that “the president wasn’t criticising predecessors, but stating a fact.”
During his administration, Obama faced criticism from the right for taking pains to honour the families of fallen soldiers, as some critics said he didn’t have the stomach for war.
“A president has to be psychologically prepared to send people into harm’s way and to get a good night’s sleep,” Eliot A. Cohen, an official in former President George W. Bush’s administration, told The New York Times in 2016. “And anything they do that might cripple them that way means they’re not doing their job.”
Trump has faced criticism for his treatment of Gold Star families.
In 2016, he repeatedly went after Khizr Khan and his wife, the parents of a soldier killed in Afghanistan.
In a series of interviews last year, Trump questioned whether Khan’s wife, Ghazala, was permitted to speak after she stood onstage beside her husband during his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, a remark that was seen as a criticism of the family’s Muslim faith.
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