President Trump is declining to offer specifics on how well planned or last minute Chief of Staff retired Gen. John Kelly’s appearance was Thursday in the White House briefing room, following criticism of Trump’s condolence call to an Army widow.
“He’s a very elegant man,” Trump said during an interview with Fox Business News’ “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo,” when asked whether Kelly’s appearance was “expected.”
“He was so offended, because he was in the room when I made the call and so were other people,” said Trump, according to a transcript of the interview, set to air Sunday. “And the call was a very nice call.”
Kelly spoke to White House reporters after Trump on Monday called the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, killed with three other U.S. soldiers Oct. 4 in Niger.
The call was followed the next day by Florida Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson saying Trump told Johnson’s widow that her deceased husband “knew what he signed up for.”
Trump, in the interview, also dismissed Wilson’s suggestion that Kelly, whose son was killed in Afghanistan, was forced to make public statements to keep his job, amid rumors Trump is unhappy with Kelly’s job performance.
“He didn’t want this job,” Trump said. “He is a man who felt this was important for the country.”
The president also said Kelly is doing a “fantastic job” and that Kelly thought Wilson’s public comments and seeming politicization of the issue were “not acceptable.”
However, Trump did not say who made the decision for Kelly to speak in the briefing room, where he said he was “heartbroken” by the turn of events.
Trump on Saturday also resumed his feud with Wilson over his call, calling her “wacky” and saying that she’s “killing the Democratic Party.”