Trump on Gold Star families: 'Did they ever think of calling me first?'

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump asked whether Gold Star families had ever thought to call him first as he continued to defend himself amid criticism of his response to the death of four soldiers in Niger, sources confirmed today.

"If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls, a lot of them didn't make calls," Trump said in a press conference. "I would like to make that call. I'm going to be calling them. But did they ever think to call me first? Why do I have to be the first one to call?"

Four US Army Special Forces soldiers were killed in an ISIS ambush in Niger on Oct. 4. While questions remain over their mission and the US military's response to the attack, the White House said that Trump did not immediately tweet about the incident since it did not involve a Puerto Rican Mayor or the failing New York Times.

"President Lincoln, one of our greatest presidents ever. Freed the slaves. Remarkable man. Lincoln. Fantastic," Trump said. "He never called the families of soldiers killed during the Civil War. But these fake news reporters won't tell you that."

Trump tried to defuse the controversy later in his press conference by claiming that he wrote letters to the families two weeks after their deaths out of a heartfelt sense of empathy that had nothing to do with him being asked a question about it.

He also sent them each a gift basket of chocolate covered strawberries and pineapples from Edible Arrangements, defense officials said.