President Trump’s response to the deaths of four soldiers in Niger is causing an uproar after Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla) said he told Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow that her husband “knew what he was signing up for.” (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

President Trump in a tweet Wednesday denied that he had told the widow of a soldier killed in an ambush in Africa this month that her husband “must have known what he signed up for.”

But the mother of the fallen soldier stood behind the account, saying that Trump “did disrespect” the family with his comments during a phone call.

Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2017

The president was reacting to a Florida congresswoman saying the family of Sgt. La David T. Johnson was “astonished” by that remark during a phone call from Trump on Tuesday. Trump said he has “proof” that the conversation did not happen as recounted by Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D.) He did not elaborate, but the claim again raised questions about whether the president tapes calls and conversations.

Wilson told MSNBC on Wednesday that Johnson’s widow, Myeshia, was shaken by the exchange.

“She was crying the whole time, and when she hung up the phone, she looked at me and said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name.’ That’s the hurting part.”

Wilson went on to say Trump “was almost like joking. He said, ‘Well, I guess you knew’ — something to the effect that ‘he knew what he was getting into when he signed up, but I guess it hurts anyway.’ You know, just matter-of-factly, that this is what happens, anyone who is signing up for military duty is signing up to die. That’s the way we interpreted it. It was horrible. It was insensitive. It was absolutely crazy, unnecessary. I was livid.”

“She was in tears. She was in tears. And she said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name.’”

On Tuesday, Wilson told The Washington Post that Trump had told Johnson’s widow, “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”

Wilson said she was riding in a limousine with Johnson when the president called, and said she heard the conversation on speakerphone.

“He made her cry,” Wilson said.

Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Post on Wednesday that she was in the car during the call from the White House and that “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.”

The body of Sgt. La David T. Johnson arrived in Miami on Oct. 17. The U.S. Special Forces soldier was killed at the border of Niger and Mali on Oct. 4 in the deadliest combat incident since President Trump took office. (WPLG/AP)

Jones-Johnson, speaking to The Post via Facebook Messenger, declined to elaborate.

But asked whether Wilson’s account of the conversation between Trump and the family was accurate, she replied: “Yes.”

[Twelve days of silence, and then a swipe at Obama: How Trump handled deadliest combat incident of his presidency]

The White House did not confirm or deny Wilson’s account on Tuesday.

“The President’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private,” a White House official said in a statement.

The White House had said Tuesday that Trump placed calls Tuesday to the families of all four service members killed in Niger on Oct. 4. The calls followed Trump’s claims Monday and Tuesday that his Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama, had not often made such calls to families. Former Obama administration officials strongly dispute that claim, saying Obama engaged families of fallen service members in various ways throughout his presidency.

Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Fla., was found dead after initially being reported as missing after the attack.

He was a driver assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) based in Fort Bragg, N.C.

John Wagner and Philip Rucker contributed

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