Dem Rep. Responds To Kelly’s Claims About 2015 Event: ‘That’s A Lie’

Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., talks to reporters, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Congresswoman Wilson is standing by her statement that President Donald Trump told the widow of a soldier killed in an ambush in Niger that her husband "knew what he signed up for." Trump lashed out at Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson on Wednesday, saying in a tweet that her description of his Tuesday phone call with Myeshia Johnson was "fabricated." (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Alan Diaz/AP

After White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Thursday afternoon criticized Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) for her comments on President Donald Trump’s call to the widow of a fallen soldier and for her work naming a federal building in 2015, Wilson hit back, arguing that Kelly got his facts wrong.

Kelly made an impromptu appearance at the White House press briefing Thursday afternoon, where he defended Trump’s call to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson. Trump told Johnson that her husband “knew what he was signing up for,” according to Wilson and others who heard the call. Kelly defended Trump’s comments and criticized Wilson for making the contents of the call public.

He then criticized Wilson over her role in the naming of a federal building, which was dedicated to two fallen FBI agents in 2015. Kelly said that during the ceremony, Wilson bragged that she “got the money” for the building.

However, Wilson told the Miami Herald that Kelly didn’t quite have his facts straight. She said that the money for the building had already been secured before she took office as a congresswoman, and that she only worked to name the building after the FBI agents.

“He shouldn’t be able to just say that, that is terrible,” Wilson told the Miami Herald. “This has become totally personal.”

She denied mentioning funding for the building during the ceremony.

“That is crazy that I got [the money] and Mr. Obama just gave it to me,” Wilson said. “That building was funded long before I got to Congress. I didn’t say that. I have staff, people who write the speeches. You can’t say that.”

Wilson followed up on CNN Friday morning, accusing Kelly of lying.

“I feel sorry for Gen. Kelly. He has my sympathy for the loss of his son. But he can’t just go on TV and lie on me,” she said. “I was not even in Congress in 2009 when the money for the building was secured. So that’s a lie. How dare he? However, I named the building at the behest of Director Comey, with the help of Speaker Boehner, working cross party lines. So he didn’t tell the truth, and he needs to stop telling lies on me.”

She also accused Kelly of making a “racist” comment when calling her an “empty barrel.”

A video released by the Sun Sentinel Friday with Wilson’s 2015 speech shows that the congresswoman did not brag about securing funding for the building. She talked about her effort, as well as the help she received from leaders in Congress, to rush legislation naming the building after two fallen FBI agents.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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