White House Chief of Staff Gen John Kelly weighed in today on the furor against President Trump after Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., listened in on a phone call to Gold Star wife Myeshia Johnson and disclosed details of their private conversation. Those revelations have created an absolute firestorm against the President. And with Mrs Johnson also confirming the President’s statement, they made it appear as if Donald Trump doesn’t respect either the fallen or the families. Nothing could be further from the truth. So John Kelly took on the media today at an emotional press conference.
General Kelly‘s own son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. As a grieving Gold Star father himself, he opened his heart to tell people how he felt about the anti-Trump furor floating around the internet.
He began by explaining that he talked with the President about what to say to the families – the message that Trump tried to portray was twisted by Rep Wilson. She took what John Kelly described as a “sacred” thing and destroyed it.
“…And 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. Let me tell you what I tell them, let me tell you what my best friend told me because he was my casualty officer: 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. And when he died, and the four cases we’re talking about Niger and my son’s cases in Afghanistan, when he died he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth, his friends. That’s what the president tried to say to four families the other day.
I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning and broken-hearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing, 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 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. It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred.
You know, when I was a kid growing up a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred. Looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore, as we’ve seen from recent cases. Life was sacred. That’s gone. Religion. That seems to be gone as well. Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer. I just thought the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die in the battlefield, I thought that might be sacred.
And when I listened to this woman and what she was saying and what she was doing on TV, the only thing I could do to collect my thoughts was to go and walk among the finest men and women on this Earth. And you can always find them. Because they’re in Arlington National Cemetery. Went over there for an hour and a half, walked among the stones, some of whom I put there because they were doing what I told them to do when they were killed…”
General Kelly walking among the gravestones at Arlington to clear his thoughts is a powerful image. After the statements today, he only took questions from reporters who were or knew Gold Star families. He defended the President. Maybe President Trump was awkward in his delivery, but listening to the spirit of the conversation would have gone a long way to preclude such a litany of Trump hate. But then, that was perhaps what they wanted all along.
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