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Trump Defends False Claim That His Predecessors Didn't Call Families Of Fallen Soldiers


President Trump today doubled down on his misleading claim that his predecessors didn't call the families of soldiers who were killed in action. NPR's Geoff Bennett has details from the White House.

GEOFF BENNETT, BYLINE: President Trump's latest comments came during an interview this morning on FOX News Radio. Trump suggested that reporters ask his chief of staff, retired General John Kelly, whether President Obama called him after his son died in Afghanistan.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I mean, you could ask General Kelly. Did he get a call from Obama? You could ask other people. I don't know what Obama's policy was. I write letters, and I also call.

BENNETT: Kelly's son, Marine Second Lieutenant Robert Kelly, was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2010. He was 29 years old. The president invoked his death to justify comments he made a day earlier. That's when a reporter asked Trump why he hadn't for nearly two weeks publicly addressed the ambush and killing of four U.S. servicemen in Niger.


TRUMP: 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.

BENNETT: Trump conceded that he didn't know the policies of his predecessors. Today, a Trump White House official told NPR that President Obama did not call Kelly after his son was killed. But Kelly and his wife did attend a Gold Star breakfast in May 2011 that President Obama hosted. According to a source, Kelly and his wife sat at the first lady's table. Geoff Bennett, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Geoff Bennett is a White House reporter for NPR. He previously covered Capitol Hill and national politics for NY1 News in New York City and more than a dozen other Time Warner-owned cable news stations across the country. Prior to that role, he was an editor with NPR's Weekend Edition. Geoff regularly guest hosts C-SPAN's Washington Journal — a live, three-hour news and public affairs program. He began his journalism career at ABC News in New York after graduating from Morehouse College.