The father of a fallen U.S. soldier has received the $25,000 that President Donald Trump promised him three months ago, perhaps ending one of the controversies since Trump falsely claimed last week to have spoken with nearly every military family who has lost a loved since he became commander in chief.
Trump made out the check to Chris Baldridge, whose 22-year-old son Dillon, an Army sergeant, was killed in Afghanistan in June. It was issued from the president’s personal account, according to a photo of the check posted online by a reporter with ABC-11 TV in North Carolina.
The check is dated Oct. 18. The Washington Post approached the White House about Trump’s $25,000 pledge earlier that day.
As The Post reported last week, Trump called Baldridge in July, a few weeks after his son’s death, and offered his condolences. Baldridge expressed frustration that his ex-wife was to receive a $100,000 death gratuity from the Pentagon and he was to receive nothing. Trump then offered to cut him a $25,000 check.
“He said, ‘I’m going to write you a check out of my personal account for $25,000,’ and I was just floored,” Baldridge told The Post. “I could not believe he was saying that, and 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.’ ”
Baldridge acknowledged then that it was “far-fetched” of him to think the money would indeed materialize. The Post asked The White House about it that morning, and White House officials said hours later that the check had been sent.
“It’s disgusting that the media is taking something that should be recognized as a generous and sincere gesture, made privately by the President, and using it to advance the media’s biased agenda,” spokesperson Lindsay Walters said at the time.
CNN reported that evening that the check was sent only after The Washington Post inquired about the president’s offer, and the image of the check published Monday appears to confirm that. It was sent along with a letter from Trump in which he appeared to blame legal proceedings for the delay.
“I am glad my legal counsel has been able to finally approve this contribution to you,” said the letter, also published by ABC-11. “Enclosed is a check for $25,000 – I hope this will make things a bit easier, but nothing will replace your son, Dillon. He was an American hero.”
Walters suggested in a statement Monday night that it was a coincidence that the check happened to be sent the day The Post asked about the promise that the president made.
“There is a substantial process that can involve multiple agencies anytime the president interacts with the public, especially when transmitting personal funds,” she said. “The check was in the pipeline since the president’s initial call with the father. The president personally followed up several times to ensure that the check was being sent.”
Baldridge did not respond to requests for comment on Monday night.
It took 18 months for President Barack Obama to fulfill a similar promise made to the family of Kayla Mueller, who was killed in 2015 while she was held captive by the Islamic State in Syria. Obama’s undisclosed sum, for a charity set up in Mueller’s name, arrived only after a report by ABC News called attention to what the president later described as an oversight.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Dan Lamothe