In the past 48 hours, Donald Trump has managed to get himself stuck in a particularly problematic corner when it comes to his office’s responsibilities and the U.S. military. After telling Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade he had “called every family of someone who’s died,” the Associated Press reported accounts by fallen soldiers’ families who had never received such calls. To make matters even worse, the president accused a congresswoman of lying about a reportedly crass phone call he made to the widow of one of the four Green Berets killed in Niger — even though the soldier’s mother confirmed the account.
Trump still insists the congresswoman was lying, though he has specifically responded to the families who’ve made similar claims just yet. Like those of Chris Baldridge, the father of Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, who was killed by an Afghan police officer in a “suspected insider attack” in June. According to the Washington Post, the president offered him $25,000 of his own money, adding his staff would create an online fundraiser for his family:
In his call with Trump, Baldridge, a construction worker, expressed frustration with the military’s survivor benefits program. Because his ex-wife was listed as their son’s beneficiary, she was expected to receive the Pentagon’s $100,000 death gratuity — even though “I can barely rub two nickels together,” he told Trump.
The president’s response shocked him.
“He said, ‘I’m going to write you a check out of my personal account for $25,000,’ and I was just floored,” Baldridge said. “I could not believe he was saying that, and I wish I had it recorded because the man did say this. He said, ‘No other president has ever done something like this,’ but he said, ‘I’m going to do it.'”
Except, as Baldridge told the Post, Trump never sent him a check for $25,000, and the administration never set up an online fundraiser as promised. When asked about the account, White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters refused to comment specifically on Baldridge’s story. She did, however, insist “[t]he check has been sent,” adding: “It’s disgusting that the media is taking something that should be recognized as a generous and sincere gesture, made privately by the President, and using it to advance the media’s biased agenda.”
(Via Washington Post)