White House chief of staff John Kelly said Thursday that he is dismayed that a Florida congresswoman made public President Donald Trump’s phone call with the widow of a soldier killed in combat, in which the president said the man “must’ve known what he signed up for.”
“I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning, and brokenhearted, at [what] a member of Congress was doing,” Kelly said during a press briefing at the White House, referring to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.). “It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. It stuns me. I thought at least that was sacred.”
Wilson was with the Gold Star family at the time of the call on Tuesday, and said she heard the conversation on speakerphone.
Kelly called Wilson’s behavior “selfish” and indicated she had eroded the standards of decency in America.
“I just thought the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield,” he added. “I just thought that might be sacred.”
The fallen soldier’s mother on Wednesday confirmed that Wilson accurately repeated what the president said.
“President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” Cowanda Jones-Johnson told The Washington Post.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article indicated Trump had called the fallen soldier’s mother. In fact, he called the soldier’s widow.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.