White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Thursday confirmed that President Donald Trump told the wife of a U.S. soldier killed in Niger earlier this month, “he knew what he was getting himself into.”
Trump’s statement to the Miami, Florida widow was overheard by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who later made the rounds to reveal the contents of the president’s private conversation with the widow and to criticize his choice of words to the grieving wife.
“I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning, and broken-hearted, 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 himself into because he enlisted,” Kelly said.
“It was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken. That was the message. That was the message that was taken. It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought, at least that was sacred,” Kelly added.
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) October 19, 2017
Earlier, Kelly told reporters that the president asked him what to say during the phone calls to the families of the fallen. Kelly said he told Trump not to call at first, and that there was nothing he could say to ease the burden.
Kelly’s statement on Thursday, though, does seem to contradict what Trump said on Wednesday, which was that he “never” told the Florida widow what Wilson claimed he told her.
So, while Kelly’s presser does answer some questions, it raises one more: Why did President Trump say that he never told the widow that her late husband “knew what he signed up for” when his own Chief of Staff confirmed as much on Thursday?