A statement of condolence following the deaths of US soldiers in Niger was reportedly drafted for President Donald Trump to deliver, but was never made, Politico reported Wednesday.
The statement, drafted on October 5 by a National Security Council staffer, was meant for Trump to issue almost immediately and was circulated around the Defense Department and the National Security Council, Politico reported.
“We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these brave American soldiers and patriots,” the statement read, according to Politico. “They will remain in our thoughts and prayers.”
“Our administration and our entire nation are deeply grateful for their sacrifice, for their service, and for their patriotism,” the statement continued.
News of the unreleased statement comes amid criticism of Trump’s response to the service member deaths. Following the initial reports of the deaths of US soldiers in an ambush in Niger earlier in October, Trump made his first public remarks on the incident 12 days later.
As Trump delivered his remarks on Monday, he mentioned that he had written letters and was planning on making calls to the families of the fallen soldiers. His remarks further received criticism after he falsely claimed that his predecessors failed to take action.
“President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” Trump said. “I call when it’s appropriate.”
On Tuesday, Trump was further criticized for statements he reportedly made during his call to one of the families.
According to Rep. Frederic Wilson of Florida, who was reportedly with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson when Trump called her, Trump said, “He knew what he signed up for, but when it happens, it hurts anyway.”
“So insensitive,” Wilson told Miami affiliate WPLG. “He should not have said that — he shouldn’t have said it.”
Read the statement, as reported by Politico:
“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. 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. 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.”