An exchange of emails between the White House and the Pentagon has revealed the fact that not only had US President Donald Trump not contacted the families of US troops who had been killed this year—as he claimed earlier—but the White House did not even have an up-to-date list of fallen soldiers, a report says.
Trump sparked a new controversy earlier this week, when he said during a Fox News Radio interview that he had contacted almost every family who had lost a soldier this year.
"I have called, I believe, everybody — but certainly I’ll use the word virtually everybody,” Trump said on Tuesday.
Following his controversial remarks, the White House began exchanging emails with a subject line of “Condolence Letters Since 20 January 2017,” with the office of Defense Secretary James Mattis, Roll Call reported on Friday.
According to the report, senior White House aides started the email exchange hastily later in the same day to learn the identities and contact information for those families,
Trump’s senior aides, said the report, were aware that the president’s statements were not accurate; in order to make it accurate, they started asking for information from the Pentagon.
Through the emails, they asked about surviving family members of all US military forces who were killed after Trump’s inauguration in January this year.
In an email sent to the White House, the executive secretary to Mattis, Hallock Mohler, provided information about how each soldier who had died as well as the identity of the survivors and their phone numbers.
According to the information, 21 military personnel had been killed in action during Trump’s tenure. An additional 44 troops had been killed by means other than enemy fire, such as military accidents.
The day after Trump made the remarks, a reporter at a White House press conference asked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders if the president had actually contacted all the families.
In response, she said, “The president’s made contact with all of the families that have been presented to him through the White House Military Office.”
“All of the individuals that the president has been presented with through the proper protocol have been contacted through that process,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Associate Press said it contacted 20 families who had lost a soldier this year and found out that half of them had not heard from Trump.