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White House says $25,000 check "has been sent" to fallen soldier's father

Trump calls soldier's widow

President Trump offered a $25,000 check to the father of a fallen soldier, which he has not yet received, according to a report from The Washington Post.

A few weeks after the June death of a Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, during a phone call to console his father, Chris Baldridge, the president offered him $25,000 and promised to have his staff set up an online fundraiser for the family. Baldridge told The Post that neither has happened yet, and that he's only received a condolence letter from Mr. Trump, which, to the father's disappointment, did not include the check.

"I opened it up and read it, and I was hoping to see a check in there, to be honest," Baldridge told The Post. "I know it was kind of far-fetched thinking. But I was like, 'Damn, no check.' Just a letter saying 'I'm sorry.'"

The White House responded to the story Wednesday afternoon.

"The check has been sent," White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters told CBS News. "It's 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."

Walters did not specify when the check was sent.

On June 10, Baldridge's 22-year old son and two other soldiers were shot by an Afghan police officer in a suspected insider attack, according to the Post.

"I said, 'Me and my wife would rather our son died in trench warfare,'" Baldridge told The Post, recalling the 15-minute phone call to his home in Zebulon, N.C. from Mr. Trump. "I feel like he got murdered over there."

Mr. Trump's offer was a response to Baldridge's frustration with the military's survivor benefits program. During his phone call with the president, the Post reported, Baldridge told Mr. Trump that his ex-wife was expected to receive the Pentagon's $100,000 death gratuity because she was listed as their son's beneficiary.

"He said, 'I'm going to write you a check out of my personal account for $25,000,' and I was just floored," Baldridge said, quoting Mr. Trump, according to The Post. "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.'"

The report adds to the controversy surrounding Mr. Trump's treatment of Gold Star families. On Monday, Mr. Trump was asked about the deaths of U.S. troops in Niger.

"Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls, a lot of them didn't make calls," he said, criticizing his presidential predecessors.

When Mr. Trump did call, he told the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, a soldier who was killed in Niger, that he "knew what he was getting into," adding that "it still hurts," according to Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida.

Wilson said she was in the car with widow Myeshia Johnson, who was driving to the airport to greet the remains of her late husband when the president called,  CBS Miami reports. Mr. Trump denied her account, but Wilson stands by it.

CBS News spoke to the father of one of the soldiers slain in Niger who appreciated the president's call and said Mr. Trump offered his condolences and listened to him talk about his son for about 17 minutes of a 20-minute call. 

At least 20 soldiers have been killed in action since Mr. Trump became president. He claimed he has "called every family of somebody that's died, and it's the hardest call to make." 

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