After a week of controversial back and forths between President Donald Trump and Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly — who lost a son in the military — said he was “stunned and broken-hearted” by the congresswoman’s criticism of the president’s call to a gold star family.
“There’s no perfect way to make that phone call. It’s not the phone call parents, family members are looking forward to,” said Kelly during Thursday’s White House press briefing.
He defended the president’s call to the widow of a Green Beret by saying he heard similar things during the condolences call when his son died in Afghanistan.
Kelly’s full comments lambasting the Florida representative went as follows:
“I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning and brokenhearted at what I saw a member of congress doing. A member of congress who listened in the on a phone call from the President of the United States to a young wife, and in his way tried to express that opinion that [her husband 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 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 transmitted. It stuns me that a member of congress would have listened in on that conversation.”
The general then went on an emotional monologue about things he believes are “sacred” — respect for gold star families being one of those sacred things. “I just thought the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die in the battlefield, I thought that might be sacred,” he said.
He continued, “When I listened to this woman and what she was saying and what she was doing on TV, the only thing I could do to collect my thoughts was to go and walk among the finest men and women on this earth [at Arlington Cemetery].”
Kelly went on to imply that Wilson merely listened in on the president’s phone call with the gold star wife to politicize it — an action he repeatedly said “stunned” him. He also compared Wilson’s remarks to another Florida congresswoman who attended a funeral for slain FBI agents and used her speech at the event to inform constituents that she had acquired a multi-million dollar building for the area.
Watch above via CNN.
[featured image via screengrab]
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