Graham Responds To Sanders: ‘In America’ Debating Generals Appropriate

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 01: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., talks with reporters before the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on August 1, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tom Williams/CQPHO

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Friday pushed back against a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that it would be “highly inappropriate” for a reporter to “get into a debate with a four-star Marine general.”

The general to whom she was referring is retired: White House chief of staff John Kelly. But generals and chiefs of staff alike are routinely subject to journalists’ questions in the United States.

After the briefing, a reporter asked Graham about Sanders’ comment.

The White House press secretary today said it was highly inappropriate to get in a debate with a four-star general, do you agree with that?”

“No, not in America,” Graham said.

The reporter asked Sanders if Kelly would be willing to discuss an inaccurate statement he made while attacking Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL). Kelly had accused Wilson of bragging about securing funding for an FBI building in Miramar, Florida in 2015. That did not happen.

Kelly’s other attack against Wilson came in response to her discussing the content of a phone call between President Donald Trump and the grieving widow of Sgt. La David Johnson on Tuesday. Wilson was in the car with the widow, Myeshia Johnson, when Trump called, and Johnson answered the call on speakerphone. Trump had previously, incorrectly, claimed to have called “every” family of a fallen member of the military during his time in office.

Graham said of the controversy: “I just think a member of Congress should have some discipline, and so should the President.”

“I don’t know Congresswoman Wilson, I’ve never met her,” he continued. “I know she’s not a big fan of the President. And to her credit, she was in the car with the family. But I think she started something that was really — I would never do that.”

Wilson had told members of the media after listening to Trump’s call with Johnson that Trump did not mentioned La David Johnson by name, referring to the fallen soldier as “your guy” instead. And, Wilson said, Trump told Myeshia Johnson that her husband “knew what he signed up for.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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