During a White House press briefing on Thursday, chief of staff John Kelly claimed he was shocked that Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) had listened in on President Trump’s phone call to Myeshia Johnson. Johnson is the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of four U.S. servicemen killed in Niger earlier in October. Wilson previously claimed that Trump told Johnson during the call that her husband “knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.”
“It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation,” Kelly said on Thursday. “Absolutely stuns me. I thought at least that was sacred.”
Kelly then turned his sights on a number of other things he felt were no longer “sacred,” including women.
“When I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country,” he said. “Women were sacred. Looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore, as we see from recent cases. Life, the dignity of life is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.”
Area man who works for Donald Trump laments that we don't respect women anymore pic.twitter.com/3XbPuk5Mdd
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) October 19, 2017
Kelly, of course, failed to acknowledge the fact that he currently works in an administration headed by a man who’s been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women.
To date, at least 16 women have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Among those women is Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana Trump, who claimed that Trump had raped her while they were married (she later walked back her comments, claiming that they were from “a time of very high tension during [their] divorce”) and former contestant on The Apprentice Summer Zervos, who is currently suing him for defamation. Zervos initially came forward last October, claiming that Trump had groped and kissed her without her consent during a meeting in 2007. Trump later called that allegation a lie.
Kelly on Thursday appeared to be referencing the recent slew of sexual assault and harassment allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Notably, both Trump and Weinstein have categorically denied all accusations of non-consensual behavior against them, with the latter insisting his actions were the result of growing up in “the ’60s and ’70s.”
On Thursday, Gen. Kelly appeared to skate past those accusations, choosing instead to refocus attention on Wilson, whose account of Trump’s call has been backed up by members of Sgt. Johnson’s family.
“[His sacrifice was] eroded a great deal…by the selfish behavior of a member of congress,” he said.
Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2017
Ironically, by confronting Wilson’s comments about the president’s phone call, Kelly appeared to officially confirm her account. Trump previously claimed that Wilson’s account was false, tweeting that he had proof Wilson had “totally fabricated” her claim.
“I didn’t say what that congresswoman said. Didn’t say it at all,” he added in a statement to reporters on Wednesday. “I’d like her to make the statement again because I did not say what she said.”