The White House is standing by comments made by Chief of Staff John Kelly in regards to a Florida congresswoman who he said acted like an "empty barrel" by boasting about her own accomplishments.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders took several questions during Friday's press briefing about the story that's dominated the headlines this week.
"As Gen. Kelly pointed out, if you're able to make a sacred act like honoring American heroes all about yourself, you're an empty barrel," Sanders said, referencing Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla. "If you don't understand that reference, I will put a little bit more simply. As we say in the south, 'all hat, no cattle.'"
Sanders' comments came one day after Kelly had harsh words to say about Wilson, who criticized the way President Donald Trump spoke to Myeshia Johnson, whose Green Beret husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, was killed in a recent operation in Niger. Kelly said Wilson is trying to making something he called "sacred," a condolence call from a president to the family of a fallen soldier, into a political issue.
Kelly also accused Wilson of taking credit for securing funding for a new FBI building in Florida as she spoke at the 2015 dedication. Video of Wilson's speech resurfaced Friday and she did not reference the funding for the building, although she did talk about working with the House, Senate, and former President Barack Obama to pass legislation to name the building after two FBI agents who died in a gun battle.
Kelly called Wilson an "empty barrel" for making her purported comments in 2015 and for criticizing Trump this week.
Trump weighed in on the matter Thursday night:
Sanders said Friday the controversy should have ended after Kelly's Thursday appearance behind the podium, but the back-and-forth between Wilson and her supporters and the White House continues.
"This story has been given an enormous amount of coverage over the last 48 hours, and [Kelly] thought it was important people got a full and accurate picture of what took place," Sanders said.
When asked why Trump decided to continue talking about the controversy, Sanders added, "Because it should have ended yesterday after Gen. Kelly's comments, but it didn't. It's still continuing today. It's still the bulk of the coverage of every TV you turn on and almost every newspaper that you open up today.
"The president responded to those continued accusations and continued mischaracterizations of his comments."
Trump himself raised the issue of calling gold star families after their loved ones are killed in action during a press conference Monday, in which he accused Obama of not making the calls. He followed that by sending letters to and calling the families of the four Army Rangers killed in Niger.
Wilson said she overheard the phone call Trump made to Myeshia Johnson, and said he was insensitive.
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