Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., says she will no longer comment on a Gold Star widow's phone call with President Trump after White House chief of staff John Kelly's emotional press briefing in which he criticized the lawmaker for politicizing the call.
"The congresswoman will not be making any further comment on the issue because the focus should be on helping a grieving widow and family heal, not on her or Donald Trump," Wilson's spokesperson said in a statement Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Wilson had said Kelly's statements were motivated so he could keep his position in the White House.
"John Kelly's trying to keep his job," Wilson told Politico. "He will say anything. There were other people who heard what I heard."
"John Kelly's trying to keep his job. He will say anything," says @RepWilson in response to Trump's staff chief who ripped her for disclosing details of controversial call with soldier's widow. "There were other people who heard what I heard." https://t.co/DDer2xmO9S— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) October 19, 2017
Trump 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," Wilson recounted on Tuesday.
Trump made the comment while speaking to U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson's widow, Myeshia Johnson, who is pregnant with her late husband's third child. Trump called Myeshia Johnson just before her husband's body arrived at the Miami International Airport on Tuesday. Wilson was with her in a limousine and heard the conversation via speakerphone, and after discussing the call with reporters has clashed with the White House on just what was said.
On Monday, Trump claimed that former President Barack Obama and other former presidents "didn't often" make calls to grieving families. After a day of fallout, he shared in a radio interview that Kelly did not receive a call from Obama when his son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.
Kelly, who was said to be surprised that Trump had shared that Obama hadn't called him, defended Trump Thursday in response to Wilson's claims.
"There's no perfect way to make that phone call. When I took this job and talked to President Trump about how to do it, my first recommendation was to not do it, because it's not the phone call that parents, family members are looking forward to," Kelly told reporters at the White House.
"It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation," he added. "I thought at least that was sacred."