Catalonia at a crossroads

Barcelona—Catalonia’s moment of truth nears. Tomorrow ends the second deadline that the Spanish government has given to Catalan President Carles Puigdemont to clarify last Tuesday’s independence declaration. In the October 1st referendum, 90% of participants voted for independence.  But the turnout was just 43%.   Then, on October 10th, Puigdemont declared independence in front of a packed […]

White House Won’t Deny That President Trump Told Army Widow Her Slain Husband ‘Knew What He Signed Up For’

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Wednesday that Rep. Frederica Wilson’s account of the discussion between President Trump and the grieving widow of slain soldier La David Johnson was “disgraceful” and “disgusting,” but never explicitly denied that the president told the young widow her husband “knew what he signed up for.”

Asked about the validity of Wilson’s story — which has been confirmed by Johnson’s mother and denied by Trump —  Sanders said during Wednesday’s press briefing that the president’s comments were well-intentioned and “taken very far out of context.”

Asked whether the president was denying he made the comments at all or suggesting that Myeshia Johnson took them “the wrong way,” Sanders did not directly answer the question but responded that “multiple people in the room” when Trump made the call said they believed his words were “completely respectful, very sympathetic.”

Trump “expressed the condolences on behalf of himself and the rest of the country, thanked the family for their service and commended them for having an American hero in their family — and I don’t know how you could take that any other way,” Sanders said.

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“I’m not going to get into the back and forth,” she continued. “I think the sentiment of the president was very clear; he took the time to make a call to express his condolences, to thank the family for this individual’s service. I think it, frankly, is a disgrace of the media to try to portray an act of kindness like that.”

Sanders went on to criticize Wilson’s conduct in the incident, saying, “I think it is appalling what the congresswoman has done and the way she has politicized this issue and the way she is trying to make this about something that it isn’t. This was a president who loves our country very much, who has the greatest level of respect for men and women in uniform and wanted to call and offer condolences to the family.”

She added, “And I think to try to create something from that, that the congresswoman is doing is frankly appalling and disgusting.”

Wilson has said she stands by her account, which was confirmed by La David Johnson’s mother, who said Wednesday that Trump “disrespected” her son and family.

Sanders was also asked why Trump suggested that reporters ask White House Chief of Staff John Kelly whether Barack Obama called Kelly when the retired general’s son was killed in battle in Afghanistan in 2010, after claiming Obama did not call Gold Star families during his presidency.

Did Kelly know that Trump would be raising the issue of his son’s death amid this controversy? a reporter asked.

Sanders said she wasn’t sure whether Kelly “knew about that specific comment but they had certainly had a conversation.”

“I think General Kelly is disgusted by the way that this has been politicized and that the focus has become on the process and not the fact that American lives were lost,” she said. “I think he’s disgusted and frustrated by that. And if he has any anger it’s towards that.”

She added that Kelly was present for Trump’s call to La David Johnson’s family and “thought it was completely appropriate.”

“He thought it was respectful and he thought the president did the best that he could under the circumstances to offer condolences on behalf of the country,” Sanders said.

She also defended Trump after Wilson criticized the president for referring to La David Johnson as “your guy” during the phone call.

“Just because the president said ‘your guy,’ I don’t think he didn’t know his name,” Sanders said. “He said the hardest job he has is making calls like that.”

Is The White House Using a Melania Trump Stunt Double? Voters Convinced On Twitter

Put on your tin foil hats, kids — we’ve got a conspiracy theory for you. Is the White House trying to pull a fast one on us by using a Melania Trump stunt double? See the ‘proof’ on Twitter that has voters convinced our FLOTUS is a fraud!

Is The White House Using a Melania Trump Stunt Double? Voters Convinced On Twitter

Put on your tin foil hats, kids — we’ve got a conspiracy theory for you. Is the White House trying to pull a fast one on us by using a Melania Trump stunt double? See the ‘proof’ on Twitter that has voters convinced our FLOTUS is a fraud!

Meet the Grieving Military Moms and Widows Who Say President Trump Never Called Them

President Trump has claimed that he alone — not Barack Obama or other past presidents — has called “virtually” all families of U.S. soldiers who have died in service since Trump took office in January.

But Gold Star families have since lashed out at Trump over his false claims about past presidents, recalling how they were comforted by Obama and former President George W. Bush as they grieved. Trump was soon forced to walk back what Obama aides called an “outrageous lie,” admitting that his predecessor “probably sometimes and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know.”

But now some family members of the fallen are coming forward to dispute the other part of Trump’s claim — saying they never received calls of condolence from the sitting president.

Whitney Hunter, whose husband was killed in a suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan nearly three months ago, tells The Fayetteville Observer that she was promised a phone call from Trump that never came.

In the months that followed, Whitney received letters from senators, governors and members of Congress — but not Trump.

She says that while a letter wouldn’t necessarily mean “a great deal,” she felt the president should have in some way acknowledged the ultimate sacrifice made by her husband, Sgt. Jonathon Hunter.

“It felt … like the importance wasn’t as dire, like he wasn’t acknowledged,” she told the newspaper of her husband. Trump “is the president. It just kind of bothered me a little bit.”

The Associated Press also spoke with relatives of two soldiers who died overseas during Trump’s presidency who said they never received a call or a letter from him, as well as relatives of a third soldier who did not get a call from him.

Brittany Harris, the widow of 25-year-old Army Spc. Christopher Michael Harris, who was killed along with another soldier in a suicide attack in Afghanistan in August, said the White House reached out to set up a call with Trump but “it fell through.” She did not receive a letter from the president after that. The family did see Vice President Mike Pence at Dover Air Force Base, where they went to receive Michael’s remains, and said they found Pence’s words comforting.

Brittany, who is now 17 weeks pregnant, said she’s received an outpouring of support from the Pentagon and other government officials, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, who sent her a handwritten note.

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Sheila Murphy, the mother of 22-year-old Army Spc. Etienne J. Murphy, who was killed in May after an armored vehicle he was in rolled over in Syria, told the AP neither she nor her son’s widow ever received a letter or call from Trump.

“Because it was non-combat, I feel like maybe he thought it was an accident, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “But my son was in Syria.”

Sheila said an army casualty assistance officer told her the White House would send a letter, but it so far has not arrived.

Six weeks ago, she finally wrote a letter to Trump saying she and her husband were still suffering from deep grief. She did not receive a response.

“It wasn’t a mean letter,” she said. “I was telling him I know he’s a grandfather. I told him I’m trying to be here for my grandkids, but some days I don’t want to live.”

Laura Butler, the mother of 27-year-old Aaron Butler, a guardsman who was killed in August at a booby-trapped building in Afghanistan, told the AP Trump has not called her either, though many other officials have.

Laura said her family did not expect the president to call and they appreciate the “intense support” from the White House.

“The family is very careful that they do not want to be pulled into a partisan slugfest,” said the family’s spokesman, Bill Boyle. “He would be very upset if his name or his death or his sacrifice was used as a tool to divide the country, and they’re fearful that this could happen.”

The latest controversy surrounding Trump comes as a result of his initial claims during a press conference on Monday that his predecessor never called the families of U.S. soldiers killed in the line of duty overseas.

Asked whether he would call the families of the four U.S. Army special operations commandos killed in an ambush in Niger earlier this month — whom the president had yet to publicly comment on — Trump said he would and then claimed that Obama had not done so in similar situations.

“The traditional way if you look at President Obama and the other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls,” Trump said. “I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it. They made the ultimate sacrifice, so generally I would say that I like to call.”

The soldiers killed in the attack were Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black and Sgt. La David Johnson — whose mother said Wednesday that Trump “disrespected” her son and family during a phone call of condolence.

Cowanda Jones-Johnson confirmed Rep. Frederica Wilson’s earlier account that Trump told the soldier’s widow on the call that “he knew what he signed up for.”

Meghan McCain ‘Exhausted’ By Donald Trump’s Continued Attacks on Her Father John McCain As He Fights Brain Cancer

Outspoken Republican and new View co-host Meghan McCain stopped by Good Morning America on Wednesday where she defended her cancer-stricken father, John McCain, against Donald Trump’s repeated attacks.

“I’m exhausted with the infighting within the Republican Party. I’m exhausted with the attacks on my father,” Meghan McCain told GMA host George Stephanopoulos.

“I don’t know if you guys have heard, but my father is fighting glioblastoma right now,” she continued. “And there’s nothing that could possibly happen or be threatened to me and my family that could possibly be more painful than what we are going through right now and have gone through in the past three months.”

John McCain was diagnosed with the aggressive stage 4 brain cancer in July, telling CBS’ 60 Minutes in September that doctors have told him “it’s a very poor prognosis” and that his chances for survival varied between doctors: “Some say 3 percent, some say 14 percent,” he said.

RELATED VIDEO: ‘It’s a Very Poor Prognosis’: John McCain Opens Up About Cancer Diagnosis

Meghan McCain made it clear to GMA that she came from a “tough ride-or-die family” and would continue to have her dad’s back.

“I just have high hopes that someday, President Trump and the rest of the Republican Party can find some common ground together where if you have any kind of difference of opinion on the future of the country or the party, that you’re not just automatically going to be threatened in return,” she added.

Trump has had an up-and-down relationship with John McCain, notably making headlines in 2015 when he told the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, that the former Navy pilot — who spent over 5 years being tortured in a North Vietnamese prison after his plane was shot down in 1967 during combat — was “not a war hero” because he was captured. “I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump said.

Things heated up in September when John McCain said that he “cannot in good conscience” vote for the Graham-Cassidy GOP health care bill, effectively killing the Trump administration’s attempt to overturn the Affordable Health Care Act.

“My oh my has he changed,” Trump wrote on Twitter as he shared a video of clips of McCain over the years promising to repeal and replace Obamacare. “Complete turn from years of talk!”

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The 71-year-old former Celebrity Apprentice host’s latest attack against the Arizona senator came shortly after John McCain alluded to Trump in an emotional speech while accepting the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal Monday evening, stating that “half-baked, spurious nationalism is unpatriotic.”

“People have to careful, because at some point I fight back,” Trump later told WMAL radio host Chris Plante. “I’m being very nice. I’m being very, very nice. But at some point I fight back, and it won’t be pretty.”

John McCain didn’t seem to be affected by the remarks, dismissing Trump’s threat by telling CNN’s Dan Merica, “I’ve faced far greater challenges than this.”

As for their differences, Meghan McCain said they are far more than personal.

“I think the fighting between them just comes from the fact that they have deep ideological differences of perspective on how America is run, how the Republican party should work together,” she told GMA.