Report: Trump condolence statement about Niger tragedy was drafted but not released
As President Trump finds himself embroiled in multiple controversies involving Gold Star families, a new Politico report suggests he may have been able to avoid them if he had released a statement the National Security Council had drafted about the U.S. casualties in Niger.
The publication notes it viewed a copy of the statement on Wednesday.
“Melania and I are heartbroken at the news that three U.S. service members were killed in Niger on October 4 while providing guidance and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terror operations," the statement reads in part. "We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these brave American soldiers and patriots. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers.”
It was reportedly drafted on October 5 -- the day after the tragedy -- and passed around the NSC and Defense Department but was not issued for an as-yet unknown reason.
Had Trump gone public with the message, a reporter, at a press event on Monday, would likely not have asked him about his seeming lack of remarks regarding the soldiers’ deaths.
It was this question that prompted him to defend his efforts towards contacting Gold Star families and criticize the relative lack of calls his predecessors made.
Trump has faced significant backlash over the allegation, and the controversy has grown after he called the widow of one of the soldiers killed in Niger. He allegedly told her that her husband “must've known what he signed up for.”
The president has since denied making the statement though the soldier’s mother has confirmed she also heard that conversation.