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Gingrich was ‘astonished’ by Trump’s comment to fallen soldier’s family

This photo provided by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command shows Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. President Donald Trump told Johnson's widow, Myeshia Johnson, that her husband "knew what he signed up for," according to Rep. Frederica Wilson, who said she heard part of the conversation on speakerphone. In a Wednesday morning tweet, Trump said Wilson's description of the call was "fabricated." (U.S. Army Special Operations Command via AP)

LISTEN: Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House

PHOENIX — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Wednesday that he was “astonished” by President Donald Trump’s reported comments to the family of a fallen soldier that some have called insensitive.

“As an Army brat whose dad spent 27 years in the infantry, I’m absolutely astonished that an American president would say that. It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Gingrich told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos.

The family of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger, said Trump was disrespectful during a phone call made as they went to meet his body at Miami International Airport.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Florida) said Trump told Johnson’s widow that he “knew what he signed up for.”

Gingrich said he had not heard a recording of the conversation, but could not think of how the conversation reached that point.

“The Trump that I’ve seen is not that insensitive, not that clumsy,” he said. “I don’t know what she might have said that triggered that.”

Trump has vehemently denied he made such a comment and tweeted about it Wednesday morning.

During a White House meeting on tax overhaul, Trump also said that he “didn’t say what that congresswoman said, didn’t say it at all. She knows it.”

Wilson has not rescinded her claim and said the president should choose his words carefully when speaking to grieving families. Gingrich echoed that statement.

“When you’re dealing with somebody who is in deep personal grief, I think you have to bend over backwards to appreciate where they’re coming from and what they’re experiencing,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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