Donald Trump's chief of staff, General John Kelly, defended the president in an emotional press conference delivered on October 19 as controversy engulfed the president over his treatment of Gold Star families in phone calls. "He was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed", Kelly recalled. He knew what he was getting into by joining the Marines, that 1 percent. "It stuns me. I thought at least that was sacred". And when he died, the four cases in Niger and my son's case in Afghanistan, he died surrounding by the best men on this earth, his friends. I don't believe all presidents call. La David T. Johnson.
Trump denied Wilson's account in both a tweet and a statement made at the White House.
"Typically the only phone calls the family receives are the most important phone calls they could imagine, and that is from their buddies". "A member of Congress who listened into a phone call between the president of the United States and a young wife". Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president had not taped the conversation, but that several staffers, including Kelly, had been present for the call.
Kelly's place at the podium came days after Trump pulled his chief of staff into the political storm by saying in an interview with Fox News: "You could ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?"
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"We were stunned, even for someone that is that empty a barrel", Kelly said, adding that "none of us went to the press to criticize".
"The president's call as accounted by multiple people in the room believed that the president was completely respectful, very sympathetic and expressed the condolences of himself and the rest of the country and thanked the family for their service and commended them for having an American hero in their family", Sanders said during the press briefing. "There is no ideal way to make that phone call". He said, "Well, I guess you knew" - something to the effect that 'he knew what he was getting into when he signed up, but I guess it hurts anyway.' You know, just matter-of-factly, that this is what happens, anyone who is signing up for military duty is signing up to die. The only thing I could do to collect my thoughts was to go walk among the finest men or women on this Earth.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article indicated Trump had called the fallen soldier's mother.
Kelly said he advised the President to not make the phone calls because there is "no ideal way" to call the family of a fallen soldier.