The White House says that it is “unfortunate” that the family of Army Sgt. La David Johnson was offended by Donald Trump’s remarks during a condolence call with his widow.
“If the spirit of which those comments were intended were misunderstood, that’s very unfortunate,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“His comments were very sympathetic, very respectful, and that was the spirit in which the president intended them,” she continued. “If they were taken any other way, that’s certainly an unfortunate thing.”
Sanders’s comments are the first White House response to criticism from the mother of the fallen soldier, Cowanda Jones-Johnson.
“President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” she told The Washington Post this week.
Jones-Johnson’s comments helped fuel the controversy that has enveloped the White House over Trump’s call.
Trump and chief of staff John Kelly, who made a rare press briefing room appearance Thursday to quell the criticism, have focused their ire on Rep. Frederica Wilson.
Wilson first revealed that Trump told Johnson’s widow, Myeshia, that her husband “knew what he was signing up for,” a remark that she said angered the widow.
Trump initially stated Wilson “totally fabricated” her account of the call. But his aides have not disputed the president’s remarks. Instead, they have tried to explain his intentions.
Johnson was among four U.S. soldiers who were killed during an ambush in the West African nation of Niger.
Sanders on Trump’s condolence call: “If the spirit of which the comments were intended [was] misunderstood, that’s very unfortunate.” pic.twitter.com/y3w3rIak8v
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 20, 2017