WASHINGTON — Rep. Frederica S. Wilson said Friday that President Donald Trump’s chief of staff had lied about her role in a 2015 dedication ceremony for a federal building, escalating the back-and-forth jabs between her and the White House that started over a condolence call the president made to the wife of a fallen soldier.
“He can’t just go on TV and lie on me,” Wilson said on CNN, referring to John Kelly, the White House chief of staff. “I was not even in Congress in 2009 when the money for the building was secured.”
On Thursday, Kelly said he had been “stunned” to hear Wilson use the ceremony to claim credit for securing the funding for the new building. But a video of her speech at the ceremony showed that Kelly’s recollection was wrong. She did not take credit for securing the money; she did spent about two minutes of her approximately nine-minute speech speaking about the legislative effort she had led to name the building after two FBI agents who died in a shootout in 1986.
Wilson’s response on Friday morning was the latest in a series of political attacks between the congresswoman and the White House after Trump called Myeshia Johnson, the widow of a soldier who died in an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger.
Kelly made unusual public remarks Thursday, defending Trump’s call earlier this week to Johnson, the wife of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who was one of four soldiers killed in the attack. Wilson overheard the call, which was on a speakerphone, and said that Trump’s tone was not respectful and that he said the fallen soldier “knew what he signed up for.”
Trump defended himself Wednesday morning in a Twitter post, saying that Wilson “totally fabricated” the account. The next day, Kelly defended the president and offered personal details about how he learned his own son had died in Afghanistan in 2010.
Kelly also had harsh words for Wilson and accused her of turning Johnson’s death into a political stunt.
The White House spokesman on Friday said it stood by Kelly’s account of her remarks.