A Plea for Apologies Regarding President Trump’s Call to the Family of Sgt. La David Johnson     

President Trump’s October 17 telephone call of condolence to the family of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger on October 4, has led to a deplorable sequence of comments.[1] Such comments should cease and instead the principals should offer at least the following public apologies:

  • President Trump should apologize to the family for his inartful offer of sympathies as he did not intend to offend or upset the family.
  • The family and Representative Frederica S. Wilson (Dem., FL) should apologize to the President for immediately and publicly characterizing his call. Instead they privately should have let the White House know of their disappointment.
  • President Trump should apologize to Rep. Wilson for accusing her of debasing Chief-of-Staff John Kelly and for calling her “wacky.”
  • Chief of Staff Kelly should apologize to Rep. Wilson for calling her an “empty barrel” and for erroneously saying that at a public meeting in 2015 she had bragged about obtaining the funding for the new FBI office in Florida when the public record indicates she spoke about her efforts to have the new facility named after two slain FBI agents and specifically thanked Republican Congressmen for their efforts in obtaining the funding and the naming of the building.
  • Representative Wilson should apologize to Mr. Kelly for saying he had lied about what had happened at that event in 2015 when it appears he merely had a faulty memory of what had happened.
  • White House Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders should apologize for saying at press conferences that the Representative’s comments were “appalling and disgusting,” that “empty barrel” was a derogatory phrase widely used in the South along with “all hat and no cattle,” both of which were applicable to the Representative and that it would be “highly inappropriate” for a reporter or anyone else to get in a debate with “a four-star Marine general” [John Kelly].


[1]  E.g., Assoc. Press, The Latest: Trump speaks with kin of troops killed in Niger, Wash. Post (Oct. 17, 2017); Sanders: Rep. Wilson’s comments on Trump’s call to soldier’s widow are ‘appalling,’ Wash. Post (Oct. 18, 2017); Fallen soldier’s mother: ‘Trump did disrespect my son,’ Wash. Post (Oct. 18, 2017); Gearin, Rucker & Wagner, John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff whose son died in combat, defends president’s call to Gold Star widow, Wash. Post (Oct. 19, 2017); Nakamura, Video of 2015 even shows Gen. John Kelly misrepresented Rep. Frederica S. Wilson’s remarks, Wash. Post (Oct. 20, 2017);  Wagner, White House press secretary: It’s ‘highly inappropriate’ to question a 4-star Marine general, Wash. Post (Oct. 20, 2017); Wagner, Trump takes another shot at ‘wacky’ Florida congresswoman who criticized his condolence call, Wash. Post (Oct. 21, 2017).

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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