White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday she doesn't believe chief of staff John Kelly should apologize for accusing Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., of making herself the focus of a speech at an event honoring slain FBI agents after video emerged contradicting Kelly's characterization.
"I don't believe that General Kelly mischaracterized. He gave his account of what took place," Sanders told reporters at Tuesday's White House press briefing. "General Kelly and his family have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I think he's led with honor and integrity. I think he's doing a great job as chief of staff, and I don't think he has anything to correct or apologize for."
Wilson publicized Myeshia Johnson's displeasure with a condolence call she received from President Trump after the death of her husband Sgt. La David Johnson in Niger, drawing a rebuke from the White House.
During a White House press briefing last week, Kelly recounted a 2015 speech Wilson gave at a ceremony dedicating a new FBI building in Florida to two FBI agents killed in 1986. Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, said Wilson boasted about securing the funding for the building during the event.
"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.
"We were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned," he said. "But none of us went to the press and criticized."
Wilson refuted Kelly's characterization of her remarks, and video surfaced affirming the congresswoman's recollections of the 2015 speech.
The White House has continued to stand by Kelly in the wake of the video's publication, and on Friday, Sanders told reporters some of the comments Kelly said Wilson made were not part of the speech she delivered but rather witnessed by others who were in attendance.