Chief of Staff defends calls to widow; Trump again calls FL congresswoman’s account a lie

Sergeant La David Johnson

(WFLA) — In heart-felt remarks, White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly expressed that he was stunned by Florida Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson’s criticism of President Trump’s condolence call to the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson, one of four American soldiers killed during an ambush of ISIS-affiliated militants in Niger.

General Kelly lost his son, Second Lt. Robert Kelly, in combat in Afghanistan and knows the pain of a Gold Star family. He defended the President from accusations by Representative Wilson that the President was insensitive with his remark that Sgt. Johnson “knew what he was getting in to” by enlisting in the military. The Chief of Staff explained what President Trump said on that call:

“He said that Sergeant Johnson was a brave man. A fallen hero. He knew what he was getting himself into, because he enlisted. There’s no reason to enlist. He enlisted and he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken. That was the message. That was the message that was transmitted. It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred.”

General Kelly says he was so disturbed by the characterization of the call that he spent an hour and a half walking the Arlington National Cemetery, where his son is buried.

“The only thing I could do to collect my thoughts was to go and walk among the finest men and women on this Earth, and you can always find them, because they’re in Arlington National Cemetery. I went over there for an hour and a half, walked among the stones, some of whom I put there, because they were doing what I told them to do when they were killed,” Kelly told reporters in a press briefing.

Although General Kelly didn’t specify any contradictions in Congresswoman Wilson’s claims of the content of the calls, President Trump on Thursday evening again refuted a congresswoman’s account of his call with Myesha Johnson. Hours after his chief of staff made his comments, and defended the President, Mr. Trump tweeted “The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!”

A spokeswoman for Wilson says the congresswoman stands by her story, but is not making any additional comments on the issue. Jones said that, “The focus needs to be on helping a grieving widow and family heal, and should not be on her (Wilson) or Donald Trump.”

Rep. Wilson later spoke about the issue on CNN. “There’s nothing to misinterpret it, 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,” she said.

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