President Trump tried to draw an unusual contrast between himself and his predecessors Monday, saying the way he reaches out to the families of fallen soldiers is different.
Trump said, "The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls, a lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I'm able to do it."
Trump later walked back his comments after pressure from a reporter.
"I don't know if he did. I was told that he didn't often, and a lot of presidents don't, they write letters," Trump said.
Ex-Obama staffers leaped to defend their former boss, who did in fact call some of the families of soldiers killed in action, as did his immediate predecessors.
Trump's comments came after he was asked about an ambush in Niger that left four U.S. Special Forces members dead. He didn't publicly comment on the incident until 12 days after it happened.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said Trump was "stating a fact" that presidents pay their respects to fallen soldiers in different ways. She also said claims that former presidents called every family of fallen soldiers are mistaken.