WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly came forward with an unexpected and emotional statement Thursday afternoon to address the controversy over presidential calls to families of fallen soldiers.
Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general who lost a son in battle, was in the Oval office when President Donald Trump called the widow of a U.S. soldier killed in Niger. Kelly said he explained to the president beforehand how he had learned about his son's death and what the officer said to him.
"He said, 'Kell, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that one percent, he knew what the possibilities were because we're at war. And when he died — the four cases we're talking about in Niger and my son's case 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 the four families the other day."
The four U.S. soldiers killed in Niger, including Sgt. La David Johnson.
Trump phoned Johnson's grieving widow, Myeshia, and the call was overheard by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. She claims the president, who she labeled "insensitive," said, "He knew what he signed up for."
"I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning and brokenhearted 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 into because he enlisted — there's no reason to enlist, he enlisted. And he was exactly where he wanted to be with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken," Kelly said.
Kelly said he was appalled that Wilson actually overheard what the president said to the widow.
"It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation, absolutely stuns me. I thought at least that was sacred," he said. "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 walk among the finest men and women on this earth. You can always find them, because they are in Arlington National Cemetery. I 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."
Wilson responded to Kelly's comments, saying, "John Kelly is trying to keep his job, he will say anything. There are other people who heard what I heard."
A viewing for Miami Gardens native Sgt. La David Johnson will take place on Friday, October 20th at Christ the Rock Church, located at 11000 Stirling Road in Cooper City from 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
On Saturday, October 21st, his funeral service will take place at the same church from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. followed by his burial at Hollywood Memorial Gardens located at 6301 Taft Street, just across the street from Fred Hunters Funeral Home.
You can help support the Johnson family by donating at their GoFundMe page.
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