White House Chief of Staff John Kelly says he was stunned to learn that Congresswoman Frederica Wilson listened in on the president’s call to a fallen soldier’s wife.
A retired general who lost his own son in Afghanistan in 2010, Kelly said the call to Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s wife should have been ‘sacred’ and that Wilson should not have repeated President Trump’s words to the Green Beret’s widow.
‘It stuns me that a Member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. I though at least that was sacred,’ he said.
In his remarks, Kelly called Wilson a ‘selfish Member of Congress.’
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly says he was stunned to learn that Congresswoman Frederica Wilson listened in on the president’s call to a fallen soldier’s wife
Kelly said that President Trump’s call to Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s wife should have been ‘sacred’ and that Wilson (left) should not have repeated it
The White House official found himself at the center of a charge that President Barack Obama ‘didn’t make calls’ to the families of fallen soldiers this week after President Trump claimed that Obama didn’t call Kelly when his son Robert died.
Kelly said Thursday at a White House news conference that it’s true – but he wasn’t offended.
In fact, Kelly says he counseled Trump not to call Gold Star families.
‘When I took this job and talked to President Trump about how to do it, my first recommendation was he not do it,’ he said. ‘Because it’s not the phone call that parents, family members are looking forward to. It’s nice to do them in my opinion, in any event.’
Kelly’s appearance at the podium was a surprise one. The daily press briefing is typically handled by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House spokeswoman.
After brief, opening remarks on Thursday, Huckabee Sanders invited Kelly to the podium to give a play-by-play of what happens when a service member is killed in action and how grieving family members are informed.
‘Most Americans don’t know what happens when we lose one of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines or coast guardsman in combat,’ he said.
As he went through the process, the press briefing room fell silent.
‘Their buddies wrap them up in whatever passes for a shroud. Puts them on a helicopter as a routine. And sends them home,’ Kelly said.
Kelly gave a play-by-play from the White House podium of what happens when a service member is killed in action and how grieving family members are informed
The retired general noted how the body was packed with ice, and then packed with ice again in a stopover in Europe, before the deceased lands at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where all American casualties are processed.
The White House chief of staff encouraged the reporters in the room to watch Taking Chance, a 2009 movie starring Kevin Bacon, that shows the painful process in full detail as the body of Chance Phelps comes home.
The movie was based on a real account.
And Kelly said he lived through the action.
‘Chance Phelps was killed under my command, right next to me,’ the retired four-star general said.
Kelly also talked about how families are informed.
If there are parents, an officer heads to their home. If there’s a wife hers too. If the parents are divorced than three officers are deployed.
‘The casualty officer proceeds to break the heart of a family member,’ Kelly said.