White House chief of staff John Kelly lashed out at Rep Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) on Thursday, saying he was “stunned” by her negative description of President Trump’s call to the wife of a U.S. soldier. “I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning,” he told reporters during an impromptu appearance at the White House press briefing, adding he was “broken hearted” over the negative publicity surrounding the call.
Wilson revealed that Trump told the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson her husband “knew what he was getting into.” “I would have thought that was sacred,” Kelly said of Trump’s conversation with Myeshia Johnson. Wilson was present for the call. Wilson’s statements “eroded [it] a great deal,” said Kelly, a retired general who lost a son. He asked me about previous presidents and I said I could tell you that President Obama — who was my commander in chief when I was on active duty — did not call my family,” he stated. “That was not a criticism. That was just to simply say I don’t believe President Obama called. That’s not a negative thing. I don’t believe President Bush called in all cases. I don’t believe any president particularly when the casualty rates are very, very high that presidents call. I believe they all write.” He then explained that after he told that to Trump three days ago, the president decided to make phone calls to the families of the four earlier this month. Kelly also noted that the president asked him how to make those calls.