Rep. Frederica Wilson has reignited a weeks-old feud with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, saying he should “apologize to the nation” for false claims she says he made about her speech at a federal building ceremony.
“General Kelly owes the nation an apology,” the Florida lawmaker tweeted Saturday. “When he lied about me, he lied to the American public.”
Kelly alleged that Wilson, during a 2015 dedication, secured $20 million for the new FBI field office in her Miami-area congressional district.
Kelly has said he would “absolutely not” apologize.
The back-and-forth started last month when President Trump called the widow of Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who was recently killed in an ambush in Niger.
Wilson, a Johnson family friend who apparently listened to the call, said Trump told the widow that her husband “knew what he was signing up for.”
Wilson within hours went to the press to criticize Trump for what she called insensitive remarks. Trump denied it, while Wilson stood by her account.
Days later, Kelly, a retired Marine general whose son, a Marine lieutenant, was killed in Afghanistan, defended Trump’s efforts, in a rare appearance in the White House briefing room. During his remarks, Kelly also suggested Wilson has a history of grandstanding or exaggerating, calling her an “empty barrel.”
Kelly said during the Oct. 19 briefing that he was “stunned” and “brokenhearted” after the Johnson condolence call President Trump turned into a public and political spectacle pitting the administration against Wilson, a Democratic lawmaker.
In a rare and emotional moment, Kelly condemned Wilson for listening to that phone call and then criticizing the president’s tone in the press.
“I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning, and broken-hearted, at what I saw a member of Congress doing — a member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the president” to the widow, Kelly told reporters. “It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation, absolutely stuns me. … I thought at least that was sacred,” he said, blasting what he called Wilson’s “selfish behavior.”