White House chief of staff General John Kelly sternly lectured Congressman Frederica Wilson for listening to and politicizing President Donald Trump’s phone call to the grieving 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, “And I thought at least that was sacred.”
Kelly delivered a stirring speech at the White House press briefing about the sacred duty of people serving in the military and the president’s role in comforting grieving family members and called Wilson a “selfish member of Congress” for politicizing the phone call.
He confirmed that he advised President Donald Trump about what to say to a grieving family, including the statement that a soldier knows what he signs up for when he volunteers to serve in the Army.
When I was a kid growing up I thought a lot of things were sacred in our country. 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 woman to die in the battlefield, I thought that might be sacred.
He said he was so stunned by Wilson’s statements on television he went to the Arlington National Cemetery to spend time with some of the slain members of the military “some of whom I put there,” referring to his command of soldiers in Iraq.
Kelly referred to Wilson as an “empty barrel” noting that they are the ones “making the most noise.”
He recalled a callous speech he witnessed from Wilson at the dedication of an FBI field office in 2015, where she reminded everyone that she was the one that delivered the funding, while others were remembering slain FBI agents for whom the building was dedicated.
“We were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned,” Kelly said soberly. “But none of us went to the press and criticized. none of us stood up and were appalled.”
Kelly urged journalists to remember the importance of revering the institution of the military and those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
“I still hope as you write your stories and I would appeal to America that let’s not let this maybe be last thing that’s held sacred in our society,” he said.
As reporters shouted questions, Kelly responded, “Is anyone here a gold star parent or sibling?”
The room was silent.