By Ryan Velez
The Washington Post reports another story about Trump and the military in the midst of a wave of comments and actions that have many upset. In this case, a grieving military father said that Trump promised him $25,000 over the phone, but never followed through on it.
Chris Baldridge, the father of Army Sgt. Dillon Baldridge, said that Trump called him at his home in Zebulon, N.C., a few weeks after his 22-year-old son and two fellow soldiers were fatally shot by an Afghan police officer on June 10. According to Baldridge, most of the conversation centered on the father’s struggle with how his son was killed, being shot by someone he was training.
“I said, ‘Me and my wife would rather our son died in trench warfare,’ ” Baldridge said. “I feel like he got murdered over there.” Trump’s relationship with Gold Star families has already been called into question, but the notion of offering money is a bit of a strange one.
In a Wednesday statement, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said: “The check has been sent. 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.”
Trump said this week that he “called every family of somebody that’s died, and it’s the hardest call to make.” According to the Post, at least 20 Americans have been killed in action since he became commander in chief in January. The Post interviewed the families of 13. About half had received phone calls, they said. The others said they had not heard from the president.
During the call, Baldridge had expressed frustration with the fact that his ex-wife was listed as their son’s beneficiaries, despite his financial struggles. “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.’”
One other explosive comment Trump made was telling the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson that her husband “knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.” This was revealed by Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.), who was riding with the widow and heard the conversation via speakerphone.