A draft statement of condolences for the U.S. soldiers ambushed in Niger was provided to President Trump by a staffer from the National Security Council within hours of the deadly attack, but the president never issued the statement.
"Melania and I are heartbroken at the news that three U.S. service members were killed in Niger on October 4 while providing guidance and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terror operations," the draft said, according to a report by Politico. "We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these brave American soldiers and patriots. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers."
"We are also praying for the two U.S. service members who were injured in the incident," it added. "We wish them a complete and swift recovery."
"The heroic Americans who lost their lives yesterday did so defending our freedom and fighting violent extremism in Niger. Our administration and our entire nation are deeply grateful for their sacrifice, for their service, and for their patriotism," the statement said.
The president was silent on the deaths in Niger for 12 days.
The memo was reported two days after Trump alleged that other presidents sometimes failed to call the families of fallen soldiers, which led to several days of fighting about the extent to which Trump has acted appropriately at the death of fallen U.S. soldiers.
On Tuesday, Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., claimed Trump had told one of the victim's families that the soldier, "knew what he signed up for … but when it happens it hurts anyway."
Wilson's accusations prompted a tweet from the president, saying, "Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!"
The White House is now in an escalating back-and-forth with Wilson over the levels of proof that might exist about the exact language the president did or did not use in any of his calls to the soldier's families.
The report by Politico said that the NCS staffer who drafted the report hung up when called for a comment, and the NCS spokesman also declined to comment.