Congresswoman Frederica Wilson Accuses John Kelly of Lying
Rep. Frederica Wilson on Friday accused White House chief of staff John Kelly of lying about her during his emotional remarks in defense of the president’s language during a condolence call to the widow of a soldier killed in action.
Wilson's "New Day" interview brings Trump's handling of his condolence phone call to Johnson's widow into its fourth day, elongating a potentially damaging story that has consumed much of the week's news cycle just as the White House is ramping up efforts to overhaul the nation's tax code and significantly cut taxes. Trump's feud with Wilson — he called the congresswoman "wacky" and a liar Thursday night — also recalls the president's feud last summer with another Gold Star family, the Khans, raising questions about his interactions with such families overall.
Kelly, a former Marine Corps general whose own son was killed in action in 2010 in Afghanistan, told reporters Thursday that he was “brokenhearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing,” accusing Wilson (D-Fla.) of politicizing the death of Army Sgt. La David Johnson to attack President Donald Trump.
He also recalled the 2015 dedication of an FBI field office in Miami, where he suggested Wilson had inappropriately sought credit for obtaining funding for the building in remarks that followed speeches from survivors of a 1986 firefight between bureau agents and drug traffickers.
“You know, I feel sorry for Gen. Kelly. He has my sympathy for the loss of his son. But he can't just go on TV and lie on me. I was not even in Congress in 2009 when the money for the building was secured. So that's a lie. How dare he?” Wilson said Friday morning on CNN's "New Day." “He didn't tell the truth, and he needs to stop telling lies on me.”
Two of the president's sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, were quick Friday morning to wade into the controversy themselves and jumped to their father's defense. Eric Trump, in an interview with Fox News' "Fox & Friends," called Wilson's willingness to share the contents of the president's conversation with a Gold Star widow "just disgusting," an action that "shows the absolute worst of politics."
Wilson was unwilling to accept that perhaps she had misinterpreted the president’s intentions, telling CNN that the bottom line was that Johnson’s family had been left hurt and offended by Trump’s remarks. The president’s sentiment, that Johnson “knew what he signed up for,” was inappropriate for a grieving widow, Wilson said.
“That is not a good message to say to anyone who has lost a child at war. You don't sign up because you knew you're going to die. You sign up to serve your country,” she said. “There's nothing to misinterpret. He said what he said. I just don't agree with it. I don't agree that that is what you should say to grieving families.”