On Wednesday, Trump claimed that a congresswoman’s account of his phone call to Myeshia Johnson, a military widow, was fake news. He said that he had proof she was lying.
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
Trump was responded to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), who overheard Trump’s call with Myeshia Johnson and told reporters that Trump made insensitive comments to her, including telling her that her husband — Sgt. La David T. Johnson, a U.S. solider who was killed on October 4 in Niger — “knew what he was signing up for.”
During a White House briefing on Thursday, Chief of Staff John Kelly attacked Wilson for listening in on the call, despite the fact Johnson’s family invited her to do so.
But Kelly also confirmed that Wilson’s account of the conversation was true.
“I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning — and broken-hearted — at what I saw a member of Congress doing,” Kelly, a former general whose son was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan in 2010, said. “A member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the President of the United States to a young wife, and in his way tried to express that opinion that he’s a brave man, a fallen hero. He knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted — there’s no reason to enlist, he enlisted — and we was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken.”
“That was the message — that was the message that was transmitted,” Kelly continued. “It stuns me that a member of Congress would’ve listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred.”
Rep. Wilson wasn’t the only person who said Trump’s comments to Myeshia were disrespectful. Sgt. Johnson’s mother — Cowanda Jones-Johnson — confirmed Wilson’s account of the call to multiple media outlets and said the president “did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.”
On Wednesday, Trump claimed that Wilson changed her story, which she had not.
“Didn’t say what that congresswoman said. Didn’t say it at all,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “She knows it, and she now is not saying it. I did not say what she said, and I’d like her to make the statement again because I did not say what she said.”
But Kelly’s comments on Thursday indicate that it was Trump who was lying, not Rep. Wilson.
Kelly’s lamentation about women and Gold Star families no longer being sacred was odd, given that his boss has been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women and viciously attacked a Gold Star family that spoke out against his Islamophobia at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Earlier this week, Trump went out of his way to politicize the death of Kelly’s son, enlisting unnamed White House officials to tell reporters that President Obama didn’t call the Kelly family. Kelly in fact attended at least two White House events after his son’s death, one dedicated to Golf Star families and another dedicated to veterans.