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.” 

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US soldiers killed in Niger ambush
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US soldiers killed in Niger ambush
A combination photo of U.S. Army Special Forces Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson (L to R), U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Bryan Black, U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Dustin Wright and U.S. Special Forces Sgt. La David Johnson killed in Niger, West Africa on October 4, 2017, in these handout photos released October 18, 2017. Courtesy U.S. Army Special Operations Command/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
A U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright of Lyons, Georgia, at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, U.S. on October 5, 2017. Courtesy Aaron J. Jenne/U.S. Air Force/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, West Africa on October 4, 2017, poses in a handout photo released October 18, 2017. Courtesy U.S. Army Special Operations Command/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia

(Photo via U.S. Army)

Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio

(Photo via U.S. Army)

Staff Sergeant Bryan Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington

(Photo via U.S. Army)
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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. 

 

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