Yesterday, Kelly gave an emotionally charged press conference, drawing on his own experiences as the father of a slain soldier, to defend his boss from charges of callousness in his treatment of Myeshia Johnson, widow of Sergeant La David T. Johnson, who was killed in Niger two weeks ago along with three other servicemen. While Kelly lambasted Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson for politicizing the issue, he conceded that her account of the conversation between Trump and Myeshia Johnson was substantially accurate. Kelly only disputed the way Johnson and Wilson interpreted Trump’s words—particularly the phrase “he knew what he signed up for”—indicating that no offense was intended.
Kelly might have hoped that he had put out the latest White House fire and that the matter could be soon forgotten. But Trump is not a man to forgive or forget. Last night he tweeted:
By saying that Wilson gave a “total lie” about the conversation, Trump is impugning the honesty not just of the congresswoman, but also everyone else who has spoken about the affair, including Myeshia Johnson and Cowanda Jones-Johnson (the mother of the fallen soldier). Moreover, Trump is also implying John Kelly is a liar. Such are the rewards for sacrificing your good name on behalf of the president.
Even if it was unintentional, Trump made a pregnant widow with two kids feel like her dead husband’s sacrifice was being disrespected. The normal response to such a situation would be for Trump to apologize. Instead, Trump has gone straight into the gutter and dragged his chief of staff with him.