White House Chief of Staff made false statements about Florida Congresswoman
Developments on Day 274 of the Trump Administration:
Controversy over Trump’s Behavior Continues as Kelly Stumbles
Trying to shift blame from Donald Trump over his belated condolence call to the widow of a slain US Green Beret, White House Chief of Staff has made his own false claim.
On Thursday, Kelly held an extraordinary press conference to cover for Trump — who said nothing for 12 days about the October 4 ambush killings of four Green Berets in Niger in northern Africa; who then falsely accused Barack Obama of never calling and visiting the families of slain troops; who falsely said Obama had never issued condolences to Kelly over the death of his son in Afghanistan in 2010; and who tried to make amends in a call to a widow in which he called one of the Green Berets “your guy” and said, “He knew what he was getting into”.
Kelly tried to shift attention to Congresswoman Federica Wilson of Florida, who told the media of Trump’s call to Myeshia Johnson, the wife of Sergeant La David T. Johnson. The retired general said Wilson — a long-time friend who was with the widow with the conversation on speakerphone, and whose account was echoed by Johnson’s mother — was “selfish” and like “empty barrels making the most noise”.
The Chief of Staff then asserted that Wilson had boasted about her role in winning funding for a federal building in Florida in 2015.
But video of Wilson’s speech at the opening ceremony verifies that she only mentioned her efforts to get the building named after two FBI agents killed in the line of duty, praised agents for their service and thanked colleagues in Congress from both parties:
White House: You Can’t Question A General’s Statements
Instead of acknowledging the false statement, the White House said Kelly was justified in his accusation. Referring to Wilson’s standard attire of a brightly-colored cowboy hat, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “As we say in the South: all hat, no cattle.”
Sanders then went farther and said that Kelly should never be questioned about his assertions: “If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”
After criticism of her remark, Sanders stepped back in an e-mail to CNN: “Of course everyone can be questioned. But after witnessing General Kelly’s heartfelt and somber account, we should all be able to agree that impugning his credibility on how best to honor fallen heroes is not appropriate.”
But Donald Trump, who has misrepresented his statements in his attacks on Wilson since Tuesday, maintained his campaign on Friday in a televised interview:
When she made that statement, I thought it was sickening, actually….
Look, I’ve called many people. And I would think that every one of them appreciated it. I was very surprised to see this, to be honest with you.
Pentagon Scramble to Cover Trump’s Lie “I Have Called Almost Every Family”
The Pentagon had to scramble to cover another Trump deceptive statement, a declaration in a Tuesday radio interview, “I have called, I believe, everybody — but certainly I’ll use the word virtually everybody.”
Trump said on Monday, when he was questioned about his silence on the Niger killings of the Green Berets, that letters were on the way to families and that he would lbe calling.
However, an internal Defense Department e-mail on Tuesday showed that senior White House aides were aware that Trump’s boast was inaccurate: not only had Trump failed to contact many families of service personnel killed this year, but the White House did not even have an up-to-date list of fatalities.
The White House asked about 5 p.m. for informatipn. An aide to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis responded with details about how each soldier had died and and the identity of relatives.
The Associated Press later contacted 20 families and found that half had not heard from Trump. The father of a soldier killed in Iraq in August said Trump promised to send a $25,000 check but never fulfilled the pledge — after the report was published, the White House said payment had been arranged.
In Latest “#WAR” on GOP Establishment, Bannon Attacks “Bumbling” Bush
In the latest assault in his war on the Republican establishment, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has derided former President George W. Bush as bumbling and inept.
Bannon, speaking at a GOP convention in California on Friday night, responded to a Bush speech that implicitly criticized Donald Trump and his hard-right supporters — including Bannon’s attack site Breitbart — for spurring division, bigotry, hatred, and conspiracy theories.
Bannon, who was dismissed from the White House in August, said Bush had embarrassed himself and had no idea whether “he is coming or going, just like it was when he was president”: “There has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush’s.”
The crowd of about 500 people reacted by booing Bush’s name and, at the end of the polemic, giving Bannon a standing ovation.
The Breitbart executive is organizing primary challenges to Republican senators in the 2018 elections.
Breitbart’s headline elegy to its leader declares, “Call to Action: Bannon on Fire in CA. Three Standing Ovations at GOP Convention Keynote. Torches China, Silicon Valley, Republican Establishment, Global Institutions. Warns Golden State on Path to Secession”.
Trump Personally Interviewed Candidates for US Attorney Posts
Donald Trump personally interviewed at least two potential candidates for US attorney positions in New York, including one whose jurisdiction would cover issues around Trump Tower and Trump’s business interests.
Trump has interviewed Geoffrey Berman for US attorney for the Southern District of New York, including Manhattan, and Ed McNally for the Eastern District post, according to two sources.
Preet Bharara, the former US attorney for the Southern District, was fired in March after being told that Trump would keep him on despite the change in administrations. He tweeted on Wednesday:
It is neither normal nor advisable for Trump to personally interview candidates for US Attorney positions, especially the one in Manhattan. https://t.co/RFURo523Nb
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) October 18, 2017
It is rare for a President to interview candidates for the 93 US attorney posts. Former President Barack Obama never interviewed a candidate during his two terms.
But earlier this year Trump met Jessie Liu, the candidate for US attorney for the District of Columbia, where she would be in charge of investigations of the Trump Administration.
Senator Richard Blumental of Connecticut noted:
To be very blunt, these three jurisdictions will have authority to bring indictments over the ongoing special counsel investigation into Trump campaign collusion with the Russians and potential obstruction of justice by the president of the United States.
For [Trump] to be interviewing candidates for that prosecutor who may in turn consider whether to bring indictments involving him and his administration seems to smack of political interference.