Lost in the storm and anguish over John Kelly’s attacks today was a sobering reality. The ideological and rhetorical spine of his remarks was a paean to MAGA. The old days were good. We had real religion. Things were right with women. There was no abortion. Honor was sacred and respected. Now it’s all crap because of people like Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D), a showboater from Florida who transgressed our last sacred space.
There was a lot to absorb from John Kelly’s verbal fusillade in the White House press briefing. I would say, a lot to criticize. But one of the oddest and cheapest moments came after he lashed out at Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) over her comments about the President. He then brought up a dedication ceremony for a new FBI field office in Miami that he and Wilson attended in the Spring of 2015.
Here’s what Kelly said …
We’ll have reports on specifics shortly. But Chief of Staff John Kelly just spoke during the White House press briefing about the entire military bereavement phone call controversy. It was volcanic. He mercilessly attacked Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, both for her comments a couple days ago and for an earlier incident (which frankly seemed like a cheap shot). Kelly took basically complete responsibility for everything President Trump had done, what he had said, how he handled the phone calls to the families of the four who died in Niger.
This is an uncomfortable topic. But when I came into the office this morning, CNN was interviewing the parents of Army Specialist Etienne Murphy about their son. It was a shattering interview. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder whether it isn’t exploitative for networks to put these families on camera at all. It seemed important to Etienne’s mother to read a statement she’d written about her experience. And if you’re going to do such interviews, the CNN host handled the interview with great sympathy and tact. The Murphys, like other families, had never received a call or any contact from the President.
But it also occurred to me: a lot of the relatives who received calls seem to be white and a number of ones who didn’t or had bad experiences seem to be black.
While the storm and anguish of President Trump’s latest controversy rolls over the news, we’ve learned a lot more about the Russian influence operation supporting Donald Trump’s candidacy last year. Over recent weeks we had already found out about those few hundreds of accounts on Facebook and something in the range of $100,000 in paid advertising on the Facebook platform. Then there was a comparable series of findings on Twitter. More is in the process of emerging from Google and the various platforms it controls. But over recent days, as the information keeps coming, the very repetitiveness of the new findings or the constancy of the flow has perhaps obscured its newness and how much it expands the story.
Another simply bizarre new thread in the Trump bereavement call story. The Post called the families of service members who’ve died in the line of duty since Trump became President. There were some good stories, some bad; some had never heard from the President. There were a lot of what you might call Trumpian moments. But the really bizarre story was his conversation with Chris Baldridge, the father of Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, killed in Afghanistan.
Alice Ollstein got hold of the memos Dems and GOPs are circulating to members to whip support for the Alexander/Murray Obamacare stabilization bill. It gives a pretty clear sense of the rough sled Republicans could be heading into, as I noted yesterday.
We’re now getting all the accounts of just what President Trump said last night to the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, how she interpreted it, how her Congresswoman did, how her family did. These are harrowing situations under the best circumstances. Even for a normal person, a normal President, it’s hard to know just what to say. But why are we here? Why is this whole thing happening? It’s happening because, for whatever reason, Trump went silent on this, not only with the families but even with the public.