White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday that the White House stands by chief of staff John Kelly's claim that Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., bragged about securing funding for a new FBI building in Florida, but acknowledged some of the comments Kelly said Wilson made were not from a 2015 speech she gave when the building was opened.
"She also had quite a few comments that day that weren't part of that speech and weren't part of that video that were also witnessed by many people that were there, what General Kelly referenced yesterday," Sanders said during Friday's White House press briefing.
Kelly alleged during Thursday that Wilson boasted during a speech she "got the money" for a new FBI building in Miramar, Fla., and said he was "stunned" she would speak about her own accomplishments during an event honoring two slain FBI agents.
Wilson refuted Kelly's recounting of her speech, saying it was "crazy" to suggest she "got the money." The Florida congresswoman said she wasn't serving in Congress when the funding for the building was secured.
A video of Wilson's full remarks released by the Sun Sentinel on Friday show the Florida congresswoman was correct in challenging Kelly's comments about the speech, as she made no mention of the funding for the building, but did talk about her effort to pass legislation naming the building after the two slain FBI agents.
But in a statement released Friday, Sanders again said Kelly was "stunned" by Wilson's comments.
"Gen. Kelly said he was ‘stunned' that Rep. Wilson made comments at a building dedication honoring slain FBI agents about her own actions in Congress, including lobbying former President Obama on legislation," Sanders said in the statement. "As Gen. Kelly pointed out, if you're able to make a sacred act like honoring American heroes about yourself, you're an empty barrel."
The White House press secretary also sought to address any confusion over the "empty barrel" reference, which Kelly also used to describe Wilson on Thursday. Wilson said the term was racist.
"If you don't understand that reference, I will put it a little bit more simply," she told reporters. "As we say in the South, all hat and no cattle."
Sanders also warned reporters against debating Kelly over his characterization of Wilson's remarks.
"If you want to go after General Kelly, that's up to you," she said. "But I think if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that's something highly inappropriate."