President Trump sent a $25,000 personal check to the father of a slain Army soldier on the same day a Washington Post report revealed that four months prior, the president had promised to send the funds to the grieving family but failed to do so.
Chris Baldridge, whose son Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge was killed by an Afghan police officer on June 10, told the Post that Trump called him "a few weeks" after the killing. The call lasted about 15 minutes, he told the paper, and he was "shocked" when the president offered to send him a check for $25,000.
But nearly four months after the exchange, Baldridge said there had been no follow-up — until it was reported by the Washington Post.
On Monday, five days after the story, ABC11 reported that Baldridge, the father, had received the check. Trump cited legal issues as the reason for the delay in a letter that accompanied the check, which was dated October 18.
"I am glad my legal counsel has been able to finally approve this contribution to you," President Trump wrote in a letter that accompanied the check. "Enclosed is a check for $25,000 — I hope this will make things a bit easier, but nothing will ever replace your son, Dillon. He was an American hero."
Baldridge said Trump's offer came after he told the president how he was frustrated with the survivor benefits program because his ex-wife was listed as their son's beneficiary and he could "barely rub two nickels together."
On Wednesday, after the Post wrote a story about the exchange, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told BuzzFeed News the check had been sent, but when asked, did not specify when the check was mailed.
CNN reported the check was sent out Wednesday, the same day the Post published its story.
Baldridge could not immediately be reached for comment.
Trump's interactions with the families of US soldiers killed in action took center stage this week after the mother of a slain soldier killed in Niger, Army Sgt. La David Johnson, and a congresswoman who said she was privy to the speakerphone call, claimed the president's comments were disrespectful to the family.
According to Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Democrat, Trump told the family that Johnson, who died in a surprise attack, "knew what he signed up for...but when it happens it hurts anyway."
Johnson's mother confirmed the exchange, telling the Washington Post, "President Trump did disrespect my son and and my daughter and also me and my husband."
Trump and the White House have denied the claim. Talking to reporters Wednesday, the president said he had "a very nice conversation with the woman — the wife, who sounded like a lovely woman."
Prior to the Johnson family, Trump took heat for false statements he made regarding questions from reporters about why he had waited weeks to contact the families of those killed in the Niger attack, saying past presidents hadn't reached out in the same manner.
He reportedly made a similar claim with Baldridge, telling the grieving father that "no other president has ever done something like this."
However, there are reports of previous presidents having taken similar action and cutting personal checks to grieving families.
Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow wrote that then-president Obama personally read 10 letters a day from Americans and "a few times" sent personal checks to people who wrote about their struggles.
Former president Ronald Reagan also responded to at least one person, an 11-year-old girl, with a personal check when she asked for help for a fundraiser.
Walters, the White House spokeswoman, meanwhile told the Post it was "disgusting that the media is taking something that should be recognized as a generous and sincere gesture, made privately by the president, and using it to advance the media's biased agenda."
Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Salvador Hernandez at email@example.com.
Talal Ansari is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. His secure PGP fingerprint is 4FEE 894C 8088 7E08 E170 A515 2801 7CC6 95D3 11C2
Contact Talal Ansari at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.