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Kelly defends Trump's call to Gold Star widow

The Washington Post
October 19. 2017 11:30PM
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks during a daily briefing at the White House in Washington on Thursday. (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

WASHINGTON — White House chief of staff John Kelly said Thursday that President Donald Trump made a “brave” decision to call families of four fallen members of the military this week, and that he was appalled by the actions of a member of Congress who has called Trump’s words insensitive.

Kelly confirmed Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama had not called his family when his son, Robert, was killed in Afghanistan seven years ago, but said he did not fault the former President for that choice. Kelly added that he had recommended to Trump that he not make such calls.

“I said to him, ‘Sir, there’s nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families,’ ” Kelly said.

Kelly’s voice grew thin at points during an extraordinary and emotional briefing at the White House.

Kelly called the actions of Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., “selfish” and shocking. Wilson had criticized Trump’s tone and choice of words in a call he made Tuesday to the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson.

In media interviews and on Twitter, Wilson said the President had been callous in telling Myeshia Johnson that her husband “must have known what he signed up for.”

Trump denied saying that, and Kelly said he was “stunned” by Wilson’s criticism.

The congresswoman spoke “in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise,” Kelly said.

Kelly: “There’s nothing you can do to lighten the burden.”

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