It seems that San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich has had it with President Donald Trump: yesterday, he called Trump a “soulless coward” after the president falsely said Barack Obama and other presidents didn’t reach out to the families of American troops killed in duty.
“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks he can only become large by belittling others,” Popovich told Dave Zirin, the sports editor for The Nation, during a phone call. “This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner — to lie about how previous presidents responded to the death of soldiers — is as low as it gets.”
On Monday, when Trump was asked why he hadn’t acknowledged the four soldiers who died in an ambush in Niger two weeks ago, he deflected the question by (falsely) comparing himself to presidents before him.
“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,” Trump said during a press conference.
Except, that isn’t quite true.
Ben Rhodes, who worked as a foreign policy advisor and speechwriter for Obama, tweeted, “This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie, even by Trump standards.”
Trump said he had written personal letters to the families of the soldiers, which hadn't yet been mailed, and that he planned to call them in the coming week.
At a different conference later in the day, after being asked about his claim that Obama had not called the families of fallen soldiers, Trump seemed to backtrack, saying "I don't know if he did." Trump said he'd been advised that Obama hadn't, and a lot of presidents didn't — opting to write letters instead.
It’s not the first time Popovich has offered some harsh criticism for Trump. But this time, Popovich, a U.S. Air Force veteran, didn’t hold back.
“We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day," Popovich told Zirin. "The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all."