Fears of Russian invasion of Ukraine rise despite US push for diplomacy
WH defends Trump over claim Obama didn't call soldiers' families
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday pushed back against criticism over President Trump's claim that former President Obama and other past presidents didn't call the families of fallen soldiers.
"The President wasn't criticizing predecessors, but stating a fact," Sanders said in a statement Monday.
"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," she added.
Some ex-aides to former President Obama, including Ben Rhodes and Alyssa Mastromonaco, took to Twitter on Monday to blast Trump for his comments.
President Trump made the comments during an impromptu press conference in the White House Rose Garden.
"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 in response to a question about four Green Berets who were killed in Niger earlier this month.
"I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I'm able to do it."
When pressed on his statement, the president said he was "told" that Obama didn't call the families of slain soldiers often.
"And some presidents didn't do anything," he continued. "I like, when I can, the combination of a call and also a letter."