White House chief of staff Gen. John Kelly dedicated a sizable portion of his Thursday press conference to criticizing Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) for politicizing a phone call that President Donald Trump shared with the widow of a slain soldier.
“It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on the conversation – absolutely stuns me,” Kelly said during the White House press briefing in an address dedicated to address the controversy ignited by Trump’s alleged callousness toward Gold Star families. “And I thought at least that was sacred.”
Kelly went on to label Wilson a “selfish member of Congress” for turning the phone call between Trump and the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson – who was among four Americans killed during an October 4 ambush in Niger – into a gotcha moment.
“When I was growing up I thought a lot of things were sacred in our country,” he continued. “Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we’ve seen from recent cases. Life was sacred. That’s gone. Religion. That seems to be gone as well.”
“Gold star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer. I just thought the selfless devotion that brings a man or a woman to die in the battlefield, I thought that might be sacred.”
Wilson’s actions disturbed Kelly so greatly, he said, that he went to the Arlington National Cemetery to spend time with fallen soliders – “some of whom I put there,” he said, clearly emotional.
Kelly also pointed to a 2015 speech that Wilson gave during the dedication of an FBI field in which she praised herself for securing the funding, even though the building was meant to commemorate slain FBI agents.
“We were stunned,” he recalled. “Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned. But none of us went to the press and criticized. None of us stood up and were appalled.”