White House chief cites son's loss in emotive Trump defense

Casey Dawson
October 20, 2017

The president's claim swiftly led to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) reporting how she'd listened to the phone call between one of the fallen Green Beret's widows and Trump, who stated, "He knew what he was getting into".

The four-star general said Wilson's words prompted him to leave the White House to go to Arlington National Cemetery and "go walk among the finest men and women on this earth".

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is scheduled to provide press with the White House briefing on camera Wednesday.

After one slain soldier's father accused the president of going back on a promise to send a check for $25,000, the White House said the money had been sent.

The aunt of an Army sergeant killed in Niger said Trump showed "disrespect" to the soldier's loved ones as he telephoned them to extend condolences as they drove to a Miami airport to receive his body.

Kelly's son, Marine Second Lieutenant Robert Kelly, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, and his death was brought into the spotlight this week by Trump.

"That's not a criticism. that's not a negative thing", Kelly added, saying he was just giving it as an example to Trump at the time.

The back-and-forth is the product of an episode from earlier this week, when a reporter asked Trump at a Monday press conference why he had not publicly mentioned the soldiers killed in the Niger ambush.

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Kelly did say that he believed phone calls and even letters from USA presidents could not "lighten the burden on these families" and said he advised Trump against the phone calls.

"That was just to simply say I don't believe President Obama called", he said in a matter-of-fact tone.

"He said to me, 'What do I say?' 'I said to him, 'Sir, there's nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families, '" he said.

Trump kicked off the furor early this week by falsely claiming that Barack Obama and other former United States leaders did not call the families of fallen soldiers.

"The traditional way if you look at President Obama and other presidents, majority didn't make calls, a lot of them didn't make calls". He said, 'Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were, because we're at war, ' " Kelly said. Kelly said Trump basically followed his advice to deliver the above message.

But Kelly said Wilson exhibited "selfish behavior" with her account of the call.

"You could ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?"

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