Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., disagrees with White House chief of staff John Kelly's claim that "she got the money" for a new FBI building during a ceremony honoring the heroism of FBI agents killed in a shootout with bank robbers in Miami.
"That is crazy that I got [the money] and Mr. Obama just gave it to me," Wilson said Thursday evening, according to the Miami Herald. "That building was funded long before I got to Congress, I didn't say that. I have staff, people who write the speeches. You can't say that."
Kelly had shared the story during a press briefing earlier in the day, where he also criticized her reaction to President Trump's condolence call to a Gold Star widow this week.
"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 Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down," Kelly told reporters.
Wilson refuted the remarks and said the money had already been approved even before she became a member of Congress. She had sponsored legislation that named the building after the two fallen agents, which had been enacted three days before the August 2015 ceremony.
"He shouldn't be able to just say that, that is terrible," Wilson said. "This has become totally personal."
The Trump administration stood firmly behind Kelly's remarks. An administration spokesperson said, "The White House stands by Gen. Kelly's account of the event," according to the Miami Herald.
The report also notes that in September 2010, the General Services Administration had bid out a $144 million construction contract, months prior to Wilson winning her congressional seat in November. In total, the project cost $194 million.
The crux of Kelly's emotional plea Thursday came as a defense of Trump in response to Wilson's claim that Trump was insensitive as he told the widow of one of the four soldiers killed in Niger this month that her husband "knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens, it hurts anyway."
"It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation," he said. "I thought at least that was sacred."
Wilson said Thursday she would not comment on the issue any longer.