Why did Trump refuse to release a statement of sympathy immediately drafted for him after four soldiers were killed in Niger?
We can stop blaming Donald Trump’s staff for him creating a burgeoning controversy over his refusal to properly honor four American Green Berets killed in action this month.
Just as the Pentagon continues to try to piece together unanswered questions surrounding the deadly ISIS raid in Niger that stunned military leaders, we’re slowly learning more about Trump’s bizarre and insensitive response to the fallen soldiers.
Traditionally, presidents express public sorrow in the wake of an event like that, as well as reach out to the families of fallen. But Trump did neither and the central question remains, why? Why did he abdicate a key duty of any commander in chief?
Some observers have suggested maybe Trump’s staff let him down. "I suspect some staff members did not get letters [about Niger] to the president as quickly as possible," said Leon Panetta, former chief of staff under Bill Clinton.
We now know White House staffers immediately drafted a statement of sympathy for Trump to issue, but that the statement was shelved and never used. That kind of statement represents the customary approach for any administration when troops are unexpectedly killed in action.
"Staffers at the National Security Council drafted and circulated a statement of condolence for President Donald Trump to make almost immediately after a deadly ambush of U.S. soldiers in Niger earlier this month," Politico reports.
And the declaration was exactly what you’d expect a president to say in the wake of the news:
Melania and I are heartbroken at the news that three U.S. service members were killed in Niger on October 4 while providing guidance and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terror operations. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these brave American soldiers and patriots.
But the statement was ignored and never issued. Instead, Trump opted to callously and actively pay no attention to the news of the fallen troops. Instead, he went nearly two entire weeks before contacting the families of the dead. Instead, he went golfing five times. And instead, he refused to even tweet out a simple message of condolence.
And then when he did belatedly contact loved ones, he deeply insulted a family by suggesting one of the dead Green Berets "knew what he was signing up for" when he entered the military. Trump also seemed to not know the name of the solider, Sgt. La David Johnson, while he was speaking to his widow, Myeshia Johnson.
This is all on Trump. Nobody should blame the staff.