HOLLYWOOD, FL - OCTOBER 21:  Myeshia Johnson kisses the casket of her husband U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson during his burial service at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other American soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
HOLLYWOOD, FL - OCTOBER 21: Myeshia Johnson kisses the casket of her husband U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson during his burial service at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other American soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:09
Soldier's widow: Trump forgot my husband's name
President Donald Trump signs the John McCain National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year 2019, during a signing ceremony Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, in Fort Drum, N.Y. (AP/Hans Pennink)
Hans Pennink/AP
President Donald Trump signs the John McCain National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year 2019, during a signing ceremony Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, in Fort Drum, N.Y. (AP/Hans Pennink)
Now playing
01:28
Trump: Rebuilding military like never before
John Kirby newsroom 02072018
CNN
John Kirby newsroom 02072018
Now playing
01:07
Kirby: Worried parade about Trump, not troops
(RtoL) US First Lady Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron, walk towards the US national flag held by soldiers, as a French joint-army brass band performs, at the end of the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on July 14, 2017.  
The parade on Paris's Champs-Elysees will commemorate the centenary of the US entering WWI and will feature horses, helicopters, planes and troops. / AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD        (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images
(RtoL) US First Lady Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron, walk towards the US national flag held by soldiers, as a French joint-army brass band performs, at the end of the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on July 14, 2017. The parade on Paris's Champs-Elysees will commemorate the centenary of the US entering WWI and will feature horses, helicopters, planes and troops. / AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:19
Trump tells Pentagon to plan military parade
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03:  Chinese soldiers march past Tiananmen Square before a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers march past Tiananmen Square before a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:41
Here's how other countries do big events
Frederica Wilson John Kelly Trump call newday_00000000.jpg
Frederica Wilson John Kelly Trump call newday_00000000.jpg
Now playing
01:07
Wilson: I wasn't 'listening in' on Trump call
Alencar family photos
Now playing
03:53
Gold Star widow's full phone call with Trump
CNN
Now playing
01:28
Kelly: I first told Trump not to call families
michelle deford
CNN
michelle deford
Now playing
00:50
Mom: Someone else should make condolence calls
CNN
Now playing
02:06
Wilson: Trump didn't know slain soldier's name
trump calling families of niger kia troops sot_00005808.jpg
trump calling families of niger kia troops sot_00005808.jpg
Now playing
02:04
Trump: Obama didn't call slain troops' families
Gen Hayden
CNN
Gen Hayden
Now playing
00:53
Gen. Hayden: Trump threw predecessors under bus
Donald Trump John McCain war hero_00000911.jpg
Donald Trump John McCain war hero_00000911.jpg
Now playing
01:45
Donald Trump questions if McCain is a war hero
president trump afghanistan war plan troop address_00003227.jpg
CNN
president trump afghanistan war plan troop address_00003227.jpg
Now playing
01:34
Trump: We produce a special class of heroes
GREELEY, CO - OCTOBER 30:  Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rainbow flag given to him by supporter Max Nowak during a campaign rally at the Bank of Colorado Arena on the campus of University of Northern Colorado October 30, 2016 in Greeley, Colorado. With less than nine days until Americans go to the polls, Trump is campaigning in Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
GREELEY, CO - OCTOBER 30: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rainbow flag given to him by supporter Max Nowak during a campaign rally at the Bank of Colorado Arena on the campus of University of Northern Colorado October 30, 2016 in Greeley, Colorado. With less than nine days until Americans go to the polls, Trump is campaigning in Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:19
Trump ignores query on transgender troops ban
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the crowd at a campaign rally January 27, 2016 in Gilbert, South Carolina.
Sean Rayford/Getty Images
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the crowd at a campaign rally January 27, 2016 in Gilbert, South Carolina.
Now playing
01:33
How Donald Trump talks about veterans
(CNN) —  

Calling the widow of an American soldier killed in action is, emotionally speaking, absolutely gut-wrenching. Knowing that nothing you will say can bring true comfort. Knowing a life – and likely many lives – have been altered forever. Facing down pure loss and pure grief.

As difficult as it is emotionally, it is just as simple politically speaking. You call – or write – expressing deepest sympathies and condolences. You offer any assistance you can. The end.

Which makes what President Donald Trump has done – and is doing – with Myeshia Johnson (and Florida Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson) all the more appalling.

On Monday, in an interview with “Good Morning America,” Johnson, the widow of slain Sgt. La David Johnson, spoke for the first time in public about her phone call with Trump. She confirmed Wilson’s account that Trump had told her that her husband “knew what he was getting into” and added: “It made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn’t remember my husband’s name.”

To which Trump almost immediately replied via Twitter: “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!”

It’s staggering to consider what Trump is doing here.

After spending the weekend attacking Wilson for allegedly lying about the nature of the call between himself and Johnson – even though White House chief of staff John Kelly confirmed last week the basics of Wilson’s account of the words Trump used – the President is now suggesting that the widow of a soldier killed in action is lying.

There’s simply no other way to read this. Johnson says Trump couldn’t remember her husband’s name. Trump says he used La David’s name “without hesitation” from the start of the call. Both of those things can’t be true.

Here’s the thing: It is absolutely possible that, at root, this is all one big misunderstanding. Trump, awkward and unfamiliar with the empathy required to make this sort of call, came across as callous and uncaring to Johnson and Wilson in an entirely unintentional way. They were offended.

At that point, Trump could have made much – maybe all – of this go away by simply calling Myeshia Johnson back and saying something along these lines: “I’m so sorry our previous call made you upset. I struggle with every death of an American soldier and I simply am not great all the time at conveying how much your loss means to me and the country.”

Would Johnson (and Wilson) be totally satisfied? Maybe not. But, it would be a respectful gesture to someone who has just lost a husband fighting for this country under orders from the commander in chief.

It would be taking the high road. It would be saying: Whether or not I said the right things, they weren’t received in the way I meant them. So I am going to admit that and move on.

Doing that, of course, would mean not being Donald Trump. Throughout his life – in the business world and over the past two-plus years in politics – Trump has repeatedly shown a lack of empathy for people who are not him. And he has demonstrated, on a near-daily basis, that he will say and do anything in support of “winning.”

That includes crossing lines in terms of criticizing the military.

He attacked Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who spent almost six years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, as a war hero only because he was captured. “He’s not a war hero,” Trump said. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.” (Trump received five medical deferments – including one for “bone spurs” – to avoid Vietnam service.)

He hit back at Khizr Khan, a Gold Star father who lost his son in Iraq in 2004, after Khan gave a speech critical of him at the Democratic National Convention. “Who wrote that? Did Hillary’s script writers write it?” Trump said of Khan’s speech. “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard.”

And now this – perhaps the lowest Trump has sunk: Disputing the account of a condolence call with a recently widowed soldier’s wife.

Put aside, for a moment, the fact that Trump seems largely incapable of empathy. That’s a massive problem in any person, much less in someone who is the leader of the free world.

Consider only how badly Trump botched this from a political perspective. We are now on Day 8 of this story, which boils down to: “Trump calls widow of soldier who died in battle, upsets her, disputes nature of call.”

Politically speaking, this was a layup. Trump not only missed the layup. He threw the ball over the backboard and out of the gym. Then he went and found the ball in the hallway and deflated it.

It’s hard to imagine how Trump could have handled all of this any worse. And what’s amazing is that there is a 0% chance he will admit that he mishandled it or try to make things even marginally better with Johnson or Wilson. Instead, if past is prologue, he will continue on the attack and then use any public appearance in the coming weeks to insist events proved him right.

Stunning – even for Trump.