Don't Question the Generals, White House Press Secretary Says

Steve Ruark  AP

Steve Ruark AP

Chief of staff Gen. John Kelly later shot back at Wilson during Thursday's White House press briefing, defending the president and saying Wilson was politicizing the family's loss.

President Donald Trump may or may not have said something insensitive or excessively blunt to the widow of a soldier killed earlier this month in Niger.

"If you want to go after Gen. Kelly, that is up to you", she said.

"Their buddies wrap them up in whatever passes as a shroud".

The bodies are packed in ice, he said, placed in the plane and flown to Europe.

In this image provided by the U.S. Army, a carry team of soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), carry the transfer case during a casualty return for Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, of Lyons, Ga., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Oct. 5, 2017. Puts them on a helicopter and sends them home. And then he knocks on the door, typically the mom and dad will answer, the wife. And if there is a wife this is happening in two different places, if the parents are divorced, three different places. I didn't say that.

After Trump and his representatives denied the story - the congresswoman revealed that during his condolence phone call to the widow of a USA serviceman, Army Sgt.

"There's no ideal way to make that phone call".

Kelly's criticism of Wilson, during which he referred to her as an "empty barrel", drew swift denials from the congresswoman's staff and denunciations from her supporters, who said the retired Marine Corps general was inaccurate and out of line. "It's nice to do, in my opinion, in any event".

Kelly also revealed that Trump sought advice from him beforehand, having had first-hand experience with the burden of losing a loved one in battle. "No, no, no... was told that he didn't often, and a lot of presidents don't".

When initially told that such legislation could take as long as a year, Wilson recalled, "I said - I'm a school principal - and I said, excuse my French, 'Aw, hell no, we're going to get this done.'" Wilson spread credit to others for helping in the effort, including House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

Johnson and three other US special forces were killed by Islamic State-linked militants earlier this month in an incident near the Niger-Mali border that has raised questions about the quality of USA intelligence.

Kelly told reporters on Thursday that the most important calls he received came in the immediate aftermath of his son's death.

The uproar over Trump and how presidents should or shouldn't try to console families of the fallen has rattled the White House and overshadowed the rest of Trump's agenda in recent days.

"If you're not in the family, if you've never worn the uniform, if you've never been in combat, you can't even imagine how to make that call", Kelly said. La David Johnson was doing what he wanted to do - proudly serving his country - when he met his untimely end.

But that was soon eclipsed by the outrage Kelly expressed over what he believed was Wilson trying to score political points off a tragedy, the officials said. "He knew what the possibilities were because we're at war, and 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".

The White House also claimed Friday that it was "highly inappropriate" for anyone - including the press, who had challenged him on his comments - to debate with a "four-star general" like Kelly on the matter and in general. She then told the tragic story of the two agents who lost their lives. "These are people that I have known since they were little children".

Defending herself against Kelly on CNN Friday morning, Wilson noted that she "was not even in Congress in 2009 when the money for the building was secured".

"This shouldn't be about [Wilson]", said spokewoman Joyce Jones.

Wilson's public criticism of the president has dominated the national news cycle for the past 48 hours.

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