Talking to the family of a daughter or son killed on a foreign battlefield is often one of the most emotionally fraught responsibilities of an American president. And President Donald Trump went to extraordinary and unusual lengths to comfort them, according to a bombshell new book.
Trump reportedly devoted a truly surprising amout of “time and emotional energy” to comforting Gold Star families, even going so far as to make up stories to comfort some of these families, an excerpt from journalist Bob Woodword’s new book “Fear,” which was obtained by The Washington Examiner, revealed. Former chief strategist Steve Bannon is said to have commented that these calls and exchanges with families, especially those with small children, had a “big impact” on the president.
“He’s not that guy,” Bannon was quoted as saying in the book. “He’s never really been around the military. He’s never been around [a] military family. Never been around death.”
Woodward’s book, the credibility of which is being hotly debated, describes one instance in which Trump did his best to comfort a grieving family by making up some details.
“l’m looking at his picture — such a beautiful boy,” Trump said in one call to family members, as reported in the book. “Where did he grow up? Where did he go to school? Why did he join the service?’ ‘I’ve got the record here,” Trump said. “There are reports here that say how much he was loved. He was a great leader.”
While Trump apparently had the deceased’s service record in hand, “none of what Trump cited was there,” the book explains, adding, “He was just making it up. He knew what the families wanted to hear.”
In another instance, the president traveled to Dover, Delaware for the return of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens’ remains. Owens lost his life during a raid in Yemen shortly after Trump took office. “No one said anything harsh,” as the president’s advisers warned might occur, “but there was a definite coldness that the president remembered,” the book reported. Owens’ father refused to meet Trump, noting that his conscience wouldn’t let him talk to the president.
During the election and even his presidency, Trump has had several high-profile disputes with Gold Star families, which escalated into major issues before being swept away by the news cycle.
Trump has dismissed Bob Woodward’s book on his administration as a “bad book.”
“It’s just another bad book. He’s had a lot of credibility problems,” the president told The Daily Caller Tuesday, adding that the stories “could be just made up by the author” or “disgruntled employees.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders desccribed the book as “nothing more than fabricated stories,” while Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called Woodward’s book a “uniquely Washington brand” of “fiction.”