Khizr Khan, an attorney and oft-quoted Muslim activist, said that White House chief of staff John Kelly is "mopping up" after President Donald Trump in the wake of controversy that has erupted concerned the president’s call to the widow of a fallen Green Beret. Khan, who appeared at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, said that Kelly will be remembered for serving with the "most racist and bigoted president." Khan told Newsweek, "He's mopping up after the president, and that is disappointing."
Both Kelly and Khan have lost sons serving in the military. Kelly is a retired four-star Marine general. Kelly’s son was a Marine officer who was killed in action in Afghanistan, while Khan’s son was an Army officer who was KIA in Iraq.
"[Kelly is] a good soldier, but he should know that he works for the American people … this mopping, enough of mopping after these not-so-dignified expressions of condolence," he told Newsweek. "This is what history will write, that after serving so honorably, he came to the White House to serve with the most racist and bigoted president."
Controversy erupted on Monday when the president said he had written letters to the grieving families of fallen military personnel and was planning to call them as well. He also accused his predecessors of rarely making calls to Gold Star families. Trump said subsequently that questions about whether Obama had called the families of fallen service members should speak to Kelly, whose son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, died in 2010.
Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., was listening in to a call from President Trump to the widow of Sgt. LaDavid Johnson, who was killed with three other Green Berets in Niger battling Muslim insurgents. Wilson said that the president told Johnson’s widow that the soldier, "knew what he signed up for … but when it happens, it hurts anyway." Wilson said that Trump was insensitive to Johnson’s family.
On Twitter, Trump denied Wilson's characterizations and accused her of lying.
On Thursday, Kelly delivered emotional remarks about how family members are notified of the death of military personnel and said that he offered Trump advice on what to say to the families he calls.