White House chief of staff John Kelly — a retired Marine four-star general whose own son died in Afghanistan — made another surprise appearance at the White House press briefing on Thursday, attempting to quell the controversy around a phone call President Trump made to a grieving military widow.
“It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation,” Kelly said of Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla.. Wilson said she overheard the call on speakerphone while traveling with Myeshia Johnson, the wife of Sgt. La David Johnson who was killed in Niger earlier this month. Wilson criticized the president for telling Johnson that her husband “must have known what he signed up for.”
The fallen soldier’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, also told the Washington Post, “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband” with his comments they perceived as insensitive.
Trump called the account of the phone call “totally fabricated.”
In his remarks in the briefing room, Kelly said, “I just thought the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred. And 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” at Arlington Cemetery.