By Hazel Trice Edney –
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The women of the Congressional Black Caucus are demanding an apology from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly for his giving the public a false account of a speech given by Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and for calling her an “empty barrel.”
Kelly verbally attacked Wilson in defense of President Donald Trump after Wilson accused him of disrespecting the widow of a serviceman killed in a fierce battle in Niger Oct. 4. The body of U. S. Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson, the only African-American of four soldiers apparently killed during an Isis attack, was brought home to his widow Myeshia Johnson of Florida. He lay in a flag-draped coffin at Dover Airforce Base in Delaware.
Trump called Mrs. Johnson as she rode with her family and Congresswoman Wilson, a long-time family friend, to the airport last week. Among other words of condolences, Trump said, “He knew what he was getting into, but it hurts anyway,” according to Wilson, who listened to the President’s call on speakerphone at Mrs. Johnson’s request. Mrs. Johnson has now publically confirmed Trump’s words as recounted by Wilson. She said his tone made her cry.
“He couldn’t remember my husband’s name,” said Mrs. Johnson. “The only way he remembered my husband’s name is because he told me he had my husband’s report in front of him and that’s when he actually said ‘La David,’” she said in an interview on Good Morning America. “I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name. And that’s what hurt me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?”
Trump, in a tweet, had denied even using the words, “He knew what he was getting into.” Yet his Chief of Staff John Kelly recounted those exact words as did Mrs. Johnson and Wilson. Kelly said he is the one who advised Trump to use those words, based on words spoken to him as the father of a son killed in combat.
Yet both Kelly and Trump have attacked Wilson; the President calling her “wacky”. Kelly falsely stated that Wilson had bragged about raising money for a new FBI headquarters in an April 15, 2015 speech. A video tape of the speech actually showed her talking about successfully helping to name the headquarters – nothing about fundraising. She was not a member of Congress when the building was funded, she stressed last week.
“Today, the women of the Congressional Black Caucus issued the following statement in response to the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s release of a video of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) 2015 speech at the dedication of a new Miramar, Florida FBI Building,” said a statement from the women of the CBC. “The video confirms that Wilson’s account of the speech is true and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s account of the speech is false.”
The statement continues, “The women of the Congressional Black Caucus stand in strong support of our colleague, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. Congresswoman Wilson is a woman of impeccable integrity and a dedicated public servant. She is a highly respected Member of Congress who has demonstrated extremely competent leadership on a number of important issues, and we are especially proud of her fearless and uncompromising leadership to fight for the release of nearly 300 Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram.”
As the back and forth raged in the media, the body of Sgt. Johnson was laid to rest Oct. 21. His widow is left to raise two small children and she is pregnant with a third baby.
Few details are available about the attacked that killed Sgt. Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright in a part of Niger where they apparently thought she would encounter no enemy fire. News that Johnson’s body was found a mile from the site of the attack after he was missing 48 hours after the others were found added even more mystery to the situation.
Meanwhile, the women of the CBC remain outraged that the character of their colleague came under attack as she stood for her constituent. Kelly has stood by his false statements.
“We were appalled by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s statements where he called Congresswoman Wilson an ‘empty barrel’ and accused her of taking credit for securing funding for a new FBI Building in Miramar, Florida that was named after two fallen FBI agents, Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove. A video of Congresswoman Wilson’s comments on that day has been released, and it provides indisputable proof that she never made any of the statements of which General Kelly falsely accused her,” the release said.
“General Kelly’s comments are reprehensible. Congresswoman Wilson’s integrity and credibility should not be challenged or undermined by such blatant lies. We, the women of the Congressional Black Caucus, proudly stand with Congresswoman Wilson and demand that General Kelly apologize to her without delay and take responsibility for his reckless and false statements.”