In a press conference on Monday, President Donald Trump admitted he has not yet spoken to the families of the four Special Forces troops who were killed in an ambush in Niger on October 4—nearly two weeks ago—but assured reporters that he composed letters to them and plans to send them out "either today or tomorrow."
While he wasn't asked about his predecessors' approach to contacting military families whose loved ones who have been killed in action, the president made sure to note that President Barack Obama and other former presidents didn't make a habit of speaking with families—a claim for which he offered no evidence and which drew immediate criticism on social media.
Trump on the US soldiers killed in Niger: "I will at some point" call the parents and the families https://t.co/vTdqM0P1Ki
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 16, 2017
As journalist Daniel Dale, the Toronto Star's Washington correspondent, noted, "Trump delivered the Obama smear in the middle of a mad ad-lib scramble to explain why he'd neglected his own duties. It's a go-to move."
Here is Trump's full answer on his calling and not calling of the families of dead soldiers. It is worth reading. pic.twitter.com/p3HAeTF1T5
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) October 16, 2017
Obama's former aides were among those who were outraged by the comments, as well as the press corps' failure to push back firmly against the president's false remarks.
that's a fucking lie. to say president obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA - he's a deranged animal.
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— Alyssa Mastromonaco (@AlyssaMastro44) October 16, 2017
This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards. Also: Obama never attacked a Gold Star family. https://t.co/JgzTUIzWIa
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) October 16, 2017
Trump is a lying POS. That's a given. But lying about President Obama not calling the families of fallen U.S. soldiers? Fucking deplorable.
— Ron Asher (@rmasher2) October 16, 2017
Trump just said that Obama didn't call the families of fallen soldiers. No follow up from the press.
— Emma Vigeland (@EmmaVigeland) October 16, 2017
Later in the press conference, Trump vaguely repeated that he'd been "told" that Obama didn't make such calls, and that he "probably did sometimes and maybe sometimes he didn't."