New audio from the White House shows Donald Trump laughing with advisers about a controversial military operation in Niger that ended up leaving four Americans dead.
As the New York Daily News noted, the audio was from a closed-door White House meeting after the October 4, 2017, attack on a group of ISIS forces in the African nation. During the attack, a small group of U.S. special forces battled the ISIS troops, who ambushed and killed four Americans.
The tape — released by former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman — showed Trump joking about the attack, saying the Nigerien troops and U.S. soldiers “got attacked by 50 real fighters” who had been forced to go to Africa after being driven out the Middle East.
“So it’s a rough business. I wouldn’t, I don’t think I’d want to be a terrorist right now,” Trump joked, prompting laughter from the others in the room. “It’s not a good life… The reason they’re there, is because we forced them out, and it’s not nearly as many, it’s not nearly as intense, but it’s pretty intense, you see that happening. So that’s that.”
The military raid in Niger was widely criticized for its poor planning and aggressive nature, as U.S. special forces in Africa are only tasked with advising and supporting local troops, not carrying out dangerous missions. As CNN noted, the small team of Americans was ambushed by more than 100 ISIS fighters when they stopped at a town to re-supply. The American troops initially believed they could defeat the attackers but soon realized that the enemy force was larger than initially thought and retreated. In doing so, a small group of American soldiers were separated from the rest of the convoy.
President Trump and aides caught on tape laughing about Niger terrorist ambush that left four U.S. soldiers dead https://t.co/sh8v5q1D4J— Yo Wassup? ???????????????????????????????? (@tack_sharp) September 10, 2018
Those killed in the attack included Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who ran nearly a half mile on foot in an attempt to get away from the enemy before being pinned down and killed. Donald Trump later stoked controversy with a phone call to Johnson’s family in which the dead soldier’s mother and widow said Trump was disrespectful, not knowing Johnson’s name and allegedly saying he “knew what he signed up for.”
The spat continued to grow in the days that followed, with the White House defending Trump and disputing the account of Johnson’s family about the phone call.
The White House has not responded to the audio showing Donald Trump and close advisers laughing about the military raid in Niger.