Myeshia Johnson: “He couldn’t remember my husband’s name”

Developments on Day 277 of the Trump Administration:

See also Podcast: Trump’s Latest Scams

Trump Rejects Widow’s Account of Condolence Phone Call

In the second week of the controversy over his belated response to the killing of four US Green Berets in Niger, Donald Trump has effectively said that the widow of one of the soldiers is lying.

The latest controversy over Trump’s phone calls to the bereaved — made only after he was called out over his initial 12 days of silence about the October 4 deaths, and after he lied about Barack Obama and other past Presidents about their contacts with families of killed troops — came on Monday morning when Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sergeant La David T. Johnson — finally made a public statement.

Johnson fully backed up the summary of Congresswoman Federica Wilson, a family friend who listened to the call when the widow put it on speakerphone. She confirmed that Trump referred to her husband as “your guy”, and said that “he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway”.

It made me cry because I was very angry at the tone in his voice and how he said it….

He couldn’t remember my husband’s name. The only way he remembered my husband’s name is because he told me he had my husband’s report in front of him and that’s when he actually said “La David”. I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name. And that’s what hurt me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?

Trump fired back immediately on Twitter after watching Johnson’s early-morning interview:

But Myeshia Johnson reiterated the initial account of Federica Wilson — whom Trump has spent days attacking as “wacky” — which was also endorsed by Sergeant Johnson’s mother: “Whatever Ms. Wilson said was not fabricated. What she said was 100 percent correct.”

Asked if she wanted to say anything to Trump, Myeshia Johnson declined, but she spoke at length about the anguish of not knowing the circumstances of her husband’s death and being unable to see his body, recovered 48 hours after the firefight with an Islamic State-linked group near the Mali border.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, said later on Monday that it is investigating the circumstances of the killing of the Green Berets and five Nigerien soldiers by about 50 ISIS-linked fighters. Johnson’s body was found a mile from the site of the ambush.

Trump Is Not Implementing Sanctions v. Russia

The Trump Administration is refusing to implement sanctions against Russia, approved by Congress in July.

Donald Trump reluctantly signed the legislation while criticizing the bill. When the October 1 deadline for implementation passed, the White House said nothing.

Senator John McCain said on Monday, “If they don’t cooperate, then further actions need to be taken.” However, Congress has little power to compel the Administration to enforce the measures.

The administration has not issued the required guidance by October 1 on implementation, including of a list of the people and organizations who will be targeted by the sanctions, primarily aimed at Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.

Puerto Rico A Month After Hurricane: “It’s Like Going Back in Time”

Writing in The New York Times, Caitlin Dickerson and Luis Ferré-Sadurní describe the situation in Puerto Rico, more than a month after Hurricane Maria, with 76% of people still without power and 26% without water:

“A grandmother turned a school bathroom sink into a bath. Neighbors are piling into a garage for communal meals prepared on an old gas stove. A 79-year-old man made a bonfire out of fallen tree branches to cook.

More than a month after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico on a path of destruction that spared no region, race or class, residents of the island have found their creativity stretched to the limit as they try to function without many amenities of the modern world.

It is not just water and electricity that are in scarce supply. Cellphone service ranges from spotty to nonexistent. Cars are damaged and roads blocked. For many, work and school still have not resumed, so they wander the streets, play board games and sit around telling stories by candlelight.

‘It’s like going back in time,’ said Kevin Jose Sanchez Gonzalez, 25, who has been living in darkness since Sept. 5, the day before a previous storm, Hurricane Irma, began to chip away at Puerto Rico’s electrical grid.

Crammed into homes three or four families at a time, living on canned and freeze-dried food without any means of turning it into a hot meal, and sleeping in shelters, Puerto Ricans have been learning to make do, sometimes in extreme ways.”

Big Electricity Contract Goes to Small Firm from Interior Secretary’s Hometown

One of America’s smallest electricity companies — which just happens to be from the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke — has won a $300 million contract to repair and reconstruct Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority awarded the contract, the largest so far after Hurricane Maria, to Whitefish Energy.

Whitefish says that it has 280 workers in the territory, most of them as subcontractors, and is adding from 10 to 20 people a day.

PREPA opted to hire Whitefish rather than activate “mutual aid” arrangements with other utilities, which have US electrity companies — including those in Florida and Texas after summer hurricanes — to recover quickly after natural disasters.

Whitefish acknowledged it had only two full-time employees a month ago but said its business model allows it to ramp up quickly by hiring workers on short-term contracts.

The company’s previous-largest federal contract, a $1.3 million deal to replace and upgrade parts of a 4.8-mile transmission line in Arizona. Puerto Rico has 2,400 miles of lines.

PREPA’s executive director, Ricardo Ramos told reporters that Whitefish was the first company “available to arrive and they were the ones that first accepted terms and conditions”. He maintained, “The doubts that have been raised about Whitefish, from my point of view, are completely unfounded.”

But Susan F. Tierney, a former senior official at the Energy Department and state regulatory agencies, evaluated, “The fact that there are so many utilities with experience in this and a huge track record of helping each other out, it is at least odd why [the utility] would go to Whitefish. I’m scratching my head wondering how it all adds up.”

McCain’s Laughter: “Are You Scared of Trump?”

Asked if he is scared of Donald Trump, Senator John McCain laughs for about 15 seconds.

The exchange on the chat show The View was prompted by Trump’s assertion, responding to McCain’s criticism of “half-baked, spurious nationalism”, that “I fight back, and it won’t be pretty”.

See Trump Looks for Another Fight v. McCain

Following the laughter, McCain says, “We’ve got to lift the national dialogue. Let’s stop insulting each other.”

On Sunday, in an apparent reference to Trump, McCain spoke of those who avoided the draft for the Vietnam War:

One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest-income level of America, and the highest-income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur.

That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve

Trump used such a diagnosis to be medically disqualified for service in 1968.

Trump has derided McCain over his 5 1/2 years as a North Vietnamese prisoner of war: “I like people that weren’t captured.”

McCain later said that he was not referring to Trump with the bone-spur statement.