Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) chastised White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly for his remarks on Thursday in which he publicly admonished her for politicizing President Donald Trump’s condolence call to the widow of Sgt. LaDavid Johnson, a Green Beret who was killed in action earlier this month in Niger where he was battling Muslim insurgents.

Kelly is a retired four-star Marine general whose son was a Marine lieutenant who was killed in action in Afghanistan. On Thursday, Kelly recalled that when he received the call that his son had been killed, he was told that the fallen lieutenant knew the risks of military service and died with his friends. The call, he said, was of accord with the condolence call President Trump made to Myeshia Johnson, the fallen Green Beret’s widow.

Johnson said on CNN on Friday, “He has my sympathy for the loss of his son, but he can’t just go on TV and lie on me.” She condemned Kelly for his description of remarks she made at the dedication of a FBI field office in Miami in 2015, which was named in honor of two FBI agents killed in the line of duty. Kelly said she boasted about having the office built in her district, and then compared her to  “empty barrels making the most noise.” Johnson said, “I was not even in Congress in 2009 when the money for the building was secured. So that’s a lie. How dare he.” 

Johnson said she was offended by the phrase “empty barrel.” She said, “That’s a racist term, too. I’m thinking about that. We looked it up in the dictionary because I had never heard of an empty barrel, and I don’t like to be dragged into something like that.” Johnson did not elaborate on what she read in a dictionary nor how the term can be deemed racist in nature.

Kelly said he was with Trump when the call was made to Mrs. Johnson, saying that he heard the president told her that Sgt. Johnson was not only brave but also knew what he was getting into when he became one of the 1 percent who serve their country in the military. In emotional remarks at the White House, Kelly said, “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 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 he’s a brave man, a fallen hero.”

Kelly said that he hopes that the sacrifices made by members of the military can remain “sacred.”

On Thursday, Wilson said it is "amazing" that the "White House is following me." "I'll have to tell my kids: I'm a rock star now."






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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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