Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey fired back at President Trump for claiming that former President Obama and other past commanders in chief didn’t call the families of fallen U.S. service members.
“POTUS 43 & 44 and first ladies cared deeply, worked tirelessly for the serving, the fallen, and their families,” Dempsey tweeted Monday. “Not politics. Sacred Trust.”
POTUS 43 & 44 and first ladies cared deeply, worked tirelessly for the serving, the fallen, and their families. Not politics. Sacred Trust.— GEN(R) Marty Dempsey (@Martin_Dempsey) October 17, 2017
Dempsey, a retired Army general, served as the 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs for four years during the Obama administration.
At an impromptu press conference in the White House Rose Garden Monday, Trump claimed that Obama and other past presidents didn’t call the families of slain service members.
“The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls,” Trump said. “I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it.”
Trump was responding to a question about four Green Berets who were killed in Niger earlier this month and when he would publicly address their deaths.
Another reporter pressed Trump about his claim.
“I don’t know if he did,” Trump said of Obama.
“I was told that he didn’t often,” Trump said. “A lot of presidents don’t, they write letters. I do a combination of both.”
Trump later said that he thinks Obama “did sometimes [call], and sometimes he didn’t, I don’t know, that’s what I was told.”
Trump’s comments drew fire from former Obama staffers, who blasted Trump as a “pathological liar” and a “deranged animal.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back on the criticism on Monday evening.
“The President wasn’t criticizing predecessors, but stating a fact," she said in a statement.
"When American heroes make the ultimate sacrifice, Presidents pay their respects. Sometimes they call, sometimes they send a letter, other times they have the opportunity to meet family members in person. This president, like his predecessors, has done each of these," she said.
"Individuals claiming former Presidents, such as their bosses, called each family of the fallen, are mistaken.”