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Rep. Frederica Wilson: Trump's call 'not a good message'

CNN logo CNN 10/20/2017 By Daniella Diaz, CNN

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Rep. Frederica Wilson said Friday that President Donald Trump's message to the late Sgt. La David Johnson's family is "not a good message to say to anyone who has lost a child at war."

"You don't sign up because you think you're going to die," the Florida Democrat told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day." "You sign up to serve your country."

She also said that instead of responding to Trump's tweet Thursday night — the president said Wilson made a "total lie" about his condolence call to Johnson's widow — she wants to shift the focus on receiving more information from the Pentagon about the Niger attack.

"My emphasis today is on my constituents and helping them lay our hero to rest," she said. "That's where my head is today. I'm also concerned about (Sgt. La David Johnson) and his last moments. I want to know why he was separated from the rest of the soldiers."

She continued: "Why did it take 48 hours to find him? Was he still alive? Was he kidnapped? What's going on? ... I am distraught and so is the family. There are so many questions that should be answered."

Johnson was among the four U.S. soldiers killed by 50 ISIS fighters in Niger in an ambush earlier this month.

Related: What we know and don't know about the deadly Niger attack

Her comments come after Trump again refuted Wilson's account of his call, deeming it a "total lie" hours after his own chief of staff said she mischaracterized the call.

"The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!" Trump tweeted Thursday evening.

Trump and Wilson have engaged in a public dispute over the highly sensitive call for the past several days.

Wilson told CNN Tuesday evening that Trump told the widow that her husband "knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt."

Wilson, who listened in on the call via speakerphone because she is close with the family, said on CNN's "New Day" Wednesday morning that Trump didn't appear to know Johnson's name and that his widow "broke down" after her call with the president.

The chief of staff said he was "stunned" that Wilson had listened to the call on speakerphone, but he added that the message the president tried to convey included the idea that "he knew what he was getting himself into."

Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Thursday that the "U.S. military does not leave its troops behind" but did not provide additional details into why Johnson's body was recovered nearly 48 hours after his 12-member team was ambushed.

CNN's Sophie Tatum contributed to this report.

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