Trump Tries to Use the Death of General Kelly's Son to Prove a Point.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday invoked the death of the son of his chief of staff, John Kelly, as he defended his claim from a day before that Barack Obama and other past presidents didn't always call the families of slain service members.
Trump also said he doesn't feel a need to clarify his remarks.
“There’s nothing to clarify,” Trump said Tuesday morning during an interview with Fox News radio host Brian Kilmeade, as he blamed CNN, which he called “fake news” and “just a bunch of fakers.”
“So they ask me that question, and for the most part, to the best of my knowledge, I think I’ve called every family of somebody that’s died, and it’s the hardest call to make, and I said it very loud and clear yesterday. The hardest thing for me to do is do that.”
“Now, as far as other representatives, I don’t know,” he continued. “I mean, you could ask General Kelly did he get a call from Obama. You could ask other people. I don’t know what Obama’s policy was. I write letters, and I also call.”
Kelly's son, 2nd Lt. Robert Kelly, died in November 2010 in Afghanistan when he stepped on a land mine. A representative for Obama did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” the president alleged without evidence Monday. “A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it.”
In an attempt to clarify the president’s comments, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that Trump “wasn’t criticizing his predecessors, but stating a fact,” and insisted that past presidents never “called each family of the fallen” because they sometimes sent letters or met with them in person in lieu of phone calls.
“I think what the president was saying is that there are many different ways to reach out to these families,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway explained Tuesday in an interview with Fox News. “The president, I think, made very clear there what he meant and what he was saying.”