There were some who hoped that the appointment of general John Kelly as the White House chief of staff would bring some semblance of normalcy and order to a chaotic administration run by a pathological liar. But the recent events surrounding the telephone call made by Donald Trump to the widow of one of the soldiers killed in Niger reveal that Kelly is as much a delusional and shameless liar as his boss, perfectly willing to falsely attack someone in defense of the indefensible.
Shaun King shows in great detail that what Kelly said about congresswoman Frederica Wilson was false in pretty much every respect.
A lot of grossness oozes out of Donald Trump’s White House. Yesterday, though, something happened that I’m a bit embarrassed to say left me stunned; I say embarrassed because nothing that the Trump team does should surprise anyone at this point, but they keep finding new ways to lower the bar on integrity and decency. In a snap press conference on Thursday, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly took time out to address the latest controversy that is enveloping his boss — not just the death of four troops in Niger, but Trump’s controversial call to the family of a fallen soldier, Sgt. La David Johnson.
In that press conference, he took direct aim at Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Florida Democrat, by recounting the dedication of a new FBI building in her district. Kelly, a retired general, recalled being present for that dedication and used his memory of the event to defame her character and integrity. She spoke at the dedication and he was not pleased. I’ll give background on that in a second, but first, read his words on her.
“And a congresswoman stood up, and in a long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President [Barack] Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down,” Kelly said. “And we were stunned, stunned that she’d done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.”
As it turns out, the only honest thing Kelly said in that statement was “and a congresswoman stood up.” Everything else was a breathtaking fabrication that simply never happened. Thankfully — unlike Trump’s call to Johnson’s family — Wilson’s remarks to the FBI were filmed.
Not once did Wilson ever mention getting funding for the building; it was funded years earlier. She never even broaches the subject of money; she never mentions this $20 million line or getting funding from Obama. It never happened. Period. It’s so dishonest that it’s bizarre.
Instead, Wilson, who was thanked by FBI Director James Comey for helping the building be named posthumously after fallen officers, told the comical bipartisan story of how she and House Speaker Paul Ryan and so many others rushed to get the naming through Congress in record time, because the ribbon-cutting had already been scheduled. She thanked her colleagues in her congressional delegation, Republicans and Democrats, by name. She honored the fallen officers and their families. She honored the FBI agents in the audience, then took her seat.
So it looks like Kelly is a perfect match for Trump, willing to lie to distract attention from what seems to be a developing controversy over what the US soldiers were doing in Niger, why their mission went so wrong, whether there was a massive intelligence failure, and the lack of adequate contingency plans.
The more embarrassing the questions become for the White House, the more lies we can expect to emerge as they try to deflect attention away from the issue. We have come to expect such lies from Donald Trump and his spokespersons like Kellyanne Conway. We can now add Kelly to the list of proven liars.