US & Canada

Trump sends family $25,000 after claim of broken promise

Cpl Dillon Baldridge Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Cpl Dillon Baldridge was killed over the summer by a rogue Afghan commander he had been training

The White House says President Donald Trump has sent a personal cheque to a dead soldier's family after they said he had not kept his promise to do so.

The father of a soldier killed in Afghanistan said Mr Trump offered $25,000 (£19,000) of his own money during a June phone call.

The White House said it was "disgusting" that the media would exploit the issue.

The dispute came as Mr Trump denied being insensitive to a war widow.

On Wednesday, the president rejected a claim that he had told the wife of a soldier killed in Niger this month her husband knew what he signed up for.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Proud father Chris Baldridge with his son, Dillon (R)

Later that day, the Washington Post reported on a phone call that bereaved father Chris Baldridge said he had received from the president.

His 22-year-old son Cpl Dillon Baldridge was killed over the summer by a rogue Afghan commander he had been training.

Mr Baldridge said that during the call he vented frustration to Mr Trump about a US military survivor benefits programme.

To his surprise, he said, the president offered to send a personal cheque and set up an online fundraiser.

But the family told the Post they are still waiting for the money.

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Media captionCongresswoman Frederica Wilson: "How insensitive can you be?"

"I was just floored," said Mr Baldridge, of Zebulon, North Carolina.

"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.'"

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told US media hours later: "The cheque has been sent.

"It's disgusting that the media is taking something that should be recognised as a generous and sincere gesture, made privately by the President, and using it to advance the media's biased agenda."

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Media captionGold Star Mother Christina Ayube: "We don't need to be reminded of that on the way to receiving the body"

Jessie Baldridge, stepmother of the slain soldier, told local media the family feels no resentment towards Mr Trump over the delay.

"We just thought he was saying something nice," she told WTVD, a local TV station, in North Carolina.

"We got a condolence letter from him and there was no cheque, and we kind of joked about it."

A White House official said the payment "has been in the pipeline since the President's initial call with the father".

"There is a substantial process that can involve multiple agencies anytime the President interacts with the public, especially when transmitting personal funds", the official said.

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Media captionTrump denigrates Obama over false fallen soldier claim

"The President has personally followed up several times to ensure that the cheque was being sent. As stated earlier, the cheque has been sent."

Mr Trump is not the first president to be accused of breaking his word to a grieving family.

In 2016, President Barack Obama was prodded into sending a donation by cheque to a foundation set up by the family of slain US hostage Kayla Mueller.

The White House acted after an ABC News report that the private presidential promise was unkept.

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