The father of a slain U.S. Army corporal says President Donald Trump offered him $25,000 over the phone earlier this year while calling to offer his condolences and then never followed through, according to The Washington Post.
Chris Baldridge told the publication that a few weeks after his 22-year-old son, Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, was gunned down by an Afghan police officer on June 10, he had a 15-minute phone call with the president. Baldridge said he told Trump of “his struggle with the manner in which his son was killed,” according the Post story, and was offered $25,000 after telling the president about his frustration with the military’s survivor benefits program.
Baldridge said he “can barely rub two nickels together,” and that his ex-wife would receive the Pentagon’s $100,000 death gratuity because she was his son’s beneficiary.
According to the Post story: “[Trump] said, ‘I’m going to write you a check out of my personal account for $25,000,’ and I was just floored, Baldridge said. I could not believe he was saying that, and I wish I had it recorded because the man did say this. He said, ‘No other president has ever done something like this,’ but he said, ‘I’m going to do it.’”
But Baldridge told the Post he had not yet received a check yet. He said he did receive a condolence letter from the administration, adding that he “opened it up and read it ... hoping to see a check in there.”
“I know it was kind of far-fetched thinking. But I was like, ‘Damn, no check.’ Just a letter saying ‘I’m sorry,’” he told the Post.
Shortly after the Post story appeared on the newspaper’s website Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that a check was sent, but it was not made clear when that was.
The story comes on the heels of backlash Trump is taking from some Gold Star families, who called the president’s delayed response to the Oct. 4 deaths of U.S. soldiers in Niger “an abdication of his first duty as commander in chief to recognize the sacrifices of the troops and their families.”
Trump waited more than a week to address the incident, and a call he made to the widow of one of the soldiers killed has become shrouded in controversy.
Myeshia Johnson, the wife of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, received a call from Trump on Tuesday and her conversation with the president was overheard via speakerphone by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.). Wilson said that Trump remarked on the phone, ”‘But you know he must have known what he signed up for.’”
“How could you say that to a grieving widow?” Wilson said. “And he said it more than once. I said this man has no feelings for anyone. This is a young woman with child who is grieved to her soul.”
Trump denied that he made the comments and said Wilson fabricated her claim. “I have proof,” Trump tweeted, although he has not offered that evidence.
Trump also wrongly claimed earlier this week that previous presidents didn’t call the families of fallen service members, singling out his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama. An Obama spokesman told HuffPost on Monday that Trump was wrong and that “President Obama engaged families of the fallen and wounded warriors throughout his presidency,” including through calls.