A video released Friday shows White House Chief of Staff John Kelly should have fact-checked himself before he accused Florida Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson of bragging about securing money for her district during a 2015 ceremony devoted to a pair of slain FBI agents.
The April 15, 2015, video remarks by Rep. Frederica Wilson in contrast to Kelly’s account shows she praised the agents at the center of the dedication ceremony for the new FBI field office in Miramar. The video posted Friday by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel shows Wilson never took credit for the tax dollars that went into the project — as Kelly stated Thursday in the White House briefing room.
— Sun Sentinel (@SunSentinel) October 20, 2017
The White House countered the video proof when asked about Kelly’s inaccurate version of Wilson’s 2015 speech, specifically Kelly’s original attack against the four-term congresswoman.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempted to change the narrative by issuing a statement, with a new take on Kelly’s critique, saying Wilson “shouldn’t have made the naming ceremony about her.”
Rep. Frederica Wilson unveils a plaque dedicating the FBI field office in Miramar on April 15, 2015. José A. Iglesias el Nuevo Herald File Photo
Wilson never mentioned “money” or “constituents” in her 2015 remarks in the video. Washington had already approved the funding for the $194 million complex in Miramar before Wilson was elected to Congress in 2010.
During a press briefing Friday, Sanders claimed Kelly had been referring to off-camera comments allegedly made by Wilson, but gave no proof. When confronted with a reporter’s request that the chief of staff should answer questions about his statements on Thursday, Sanders cautioned the reporter against questioning Kelly on the issue.
“I think that if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that’s something highly inappropriate,” Huckabee Sanders said. “There was a lot of grandstanding. He [Kelly] was stunned that she [Wilson] had taken that opportunity to make it about herself.”
The video posted by the Sun-Sentinel shows Wilson, who is recognizing fellow members of Congress in the audience. In her remarks, Wilson touted passing her bill so quickly as “a miracle, to say the least,” thanks to her and colleagues being in “attack mode.” She praised the agents who Kelly said on Thursday had deserved the attention that day.
“Today it is is our patriotic duty to lift up Special Agent Benjamin Grogan and Special Agent Jerry Dove from the streets of South Florida and place their names and pictures high where the world will know that we are proud of their sacrifice, sacrifice for our nation,” she said in the video.
“It is only fitting that their names should be placed on the same mantle with the letters FBI. Because Special Agent Grogan and Dove embody the sacred motto of which the agency has become known. Please repeat it after me: Fidelity. Bravery. And integrity.
Florida congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D) fired back at White House chief of staff John Kelly in an exclusive CNN interview on Friday.
The congresswoman, refuting Kelly’s claims said he lied about her taking credit for securing funding for an FBI field office two years ago.
“I was not even in Congress in 2009 when the money for the building was secured,” Rep. Wilson said on Friday’s CNN’s “New Day.” Driving her point she added… “So that’s a lie. How dare he. However, I named the building at the behest of then-FBI Director James Comey, with the help of then-House Speaker John Boehner, working across party lines. So he didn’t tell the truth.”
Before the exclusive with CNN on Friday’s “New Day”, the congresswoman had already debunked Kelly’s false allegations in a Miami Herald article on Thursday night.
Slamming the congresswoman during the White House press briefing—the chief of staff said he was “stunned” by Wilson’s public comments at the ceremony dedicating the building. Kelly’s allegations of Wilson were centered on an FBI field office in Miramar, Florida. The Miramar office was dedicated to agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, killed during a 1986 shootout with bank robbers south of Miami.
Kelly claimed in the press room briefing that Wilson said: “she got the money” for the new building during the 2015 opening. Photo credit: CBS News
Taking offense to Kelly’s impassioned defense of President Trump, Rep. Wilson said the former Marine general “needs to stop telling lies on me.”
During his remarks Thursday the chief of staff, whose own son was killed while serving in Afghanistan said, “Wilson is an ‘empty barrel’ who makes noise.”
The ongoing exchange between the congresswoman and the White House escalated on Friday after Kelly [in Thursday’s press briefing] denounced Rep. Wilson’s public criticism of President Trump’s comments during a phone call with the widow of fallen soldier Sgt. La David Johnson.
Rep. Wilson criticized Trump during the “New Day” interview on Friday morning for the phone call to the pregnant widow of Green Beret Sgt. La David Johnson, one of four soldiers, killed two weeks ago in Niger, saying it was “not a good message to say to anyone who has lost a child at war.”
Rep. Wilson, a close friend of the family for years, was in the car with Sgt. Johnson’s family when President Trump called on Tuesday. She said that Trump told Sgt. Johnson’s widow that “you know that this could happen when you signed up for it … but it still hurts.”
The aunt of the fallen soldier, Sgt. La David Johnson’s confirmed that the family took President Trump’s remarks on the phone call as disrespectful.
“There’s nothing to misinterpret,” Rep. Wilson said on Friday. “He said what he said; I just don’t agree with it. I just don’t think that’s what you should say to grieving families.”
President Trump accused the congresswoman of flat-out lying and denied Rep. Wilson’s account before Kelly came to his defense, to clarify what he instructed the president to say. Late Thursday, Trump attacked the congresswoman for listening in on the call. Rep. Wilson, was with the Johnson family while traveling to the Miami International Airport to claim Sgt. Johnson’s body.
The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 20, 2017
“The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson (D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!” Trump tweeted on Thursday evening.
Rep. Wilson said on Friday’s “New Day” that she wants to shift the focus on receiving more information on the Niger attack back to the Pentagon.
“My emphasis today is on my constituents’ and helping them lay our hero to rest,” she said. “That’s where my head is today. I’m also concerned about Sgt. La David Johnson and his last moments. I want to know why he was separated from the rest of the soldiers.”
Miramar mayor Wayne Messam, who also spoke at the 2015 FBI dedication ceremony, said Friday that Wilson did not engage in any grandstanding either on or off camera.
“I heard no one give any suggestion that she was grandstanding or even made it about herself,” Messam said. “The thought never even came across my mind until all of this discussion.”
U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger in an ambush, West Africa on Oct. 4, 2017. (Reuters/U.S. Army Special Operations Command handout)
By LeNora Millen 10-21-17