White House chief of staff John Kelly said that “it stuns me” that a member of Congress listened to a conversation between the president and the widow of a fallen soldier.
Kelly said that the president was trying to convey a message that Sgt. La David Johnson was where he wanted to be and doing what he wanted to do when he was killed in action in Niger.
Trump told the soldier’s widow that Johnson “knew what he signed up for,” and his remarks were later detailed by Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson.
Kelly, whose son was killed in the line of duty during the Obama administration, said that Trump was following his advice on what to say to the families.
“He called four people the other day and expressed his condolences in the best way that he could,” Kelly, a Boston native, said.
Trump had claimed Wednesday that Wilson “totally fabricated” what he said to the soldier’s widow, but Kelly didn’t dispute Wilson’s account.
At times growing emotional, Kelly said he feels that things that were once “sacred” in the US have been eroded.
“I thought at least that was sacred,” he said. “It eroded a great deal yesterday by the selfish behavior of a member of Congress.”