Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders asked the White House press corps not to do their jobs — question power — on Friday afternoon, saying that debating with a four-star general was “highly inappropriate.”
The comment was the culmination of an ongoing feud between White House chief of staff John Kelly (who is a four-star general) and Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL).
On Thursday, Kelly said Wilson was politicizing a call President Trump made to Gold Star widow Myeshia Johnson, during which the president said her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, “must have known what he signed up for” before he was killed during an ambush in Niger. Kelly also remarked on a speech Wilson gave in 2015 at the FBI, where Kelly said Wilson bragged about getting funding for the agency rather than focusing on two agents who had died.
Video of the speech has since surfaced, as reported by the Sun-Sentinel, and it doesn’t appear to show Wilson talking about funding for the agency, despite Kelly’s comments. On Friday, a reporter asked Sanders whether Kelly still stood by his claim, given the new video evidence. Sanders said Kelly “absolutely” does.
Today in chyrons: pic.twitter.com/iYfkuv4H8C
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) October 20, 2017
“There was a lot of grandstanding and he was stunned that she’d taken the opportunity to make it about herself,” Sanders said Friday, doubling down on the claim.
Asked if Kelly would speak to the press further about the saga, Sanders said Kelly “addressed that pretty thoroughly yesterday.”
“If you want to go after Gen. Kelly, that’s up to you,” she added, “but I think if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that’s something highly inappropriate.”
Sanders appears to have forgotten that this is the United States and debating generals is, in fact, so appropriate that it’s enshrined in the First Amendment. She also seems to have forgotten that Trump has had no problem repeatedly criticizing generals, both before and during his life in politics.
“How can General Martin Dempsey tell Obama that delaying the Syria bombardment will have no consequences? He is no Patton or MacArthur,” Trump tweeted in September 2013.
How can General Martin Dempsey tell Obama that delaying the Syria bombardment will have no consequences? He is no Patton or MacArthur.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2013
Last July, Trump took to Twitter to criticize Gen. John Allen, writing, “General John Allen, who I never met but spoke against me last night, failed badly in his fight against ISIS. His record = BAD #NeverHillary.”
General John Allen, who I never met but spoke against me last night, failed badly in his fight against ISIS. His record = BAD #NeverHillary
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2016
And in November 2015, Trump notably said he’s smarter than every general.
“I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me,” he said. “I would bomb the shit out of [ISIS].”