A quiet weekend morning didn’t get in the way of the conflict between Rep. Frederica Wilson and President Donald Trump.
On Sunday, the Democratic member of Congress appeared on MSNBC to defend herself against White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s recent remarks, telling host Joy Reid that the chief of staff “owed an apology” to the American people for his false statements.
“John Kelly is almost, I guess, you could say, a puppet of the president, and what he was trying to do was divert the attention away from the president onto me,” Wilson said. “And he basically just lied on me, and I don’t appreciate people lying on me, and that’s what he did.
“I’ve been in politics a long time, and most things don’t bother me, you know, it just rolls off my back, I’ve been lied on before. But the character assassination he went through to call me out ... not only does he owe me an apology, but he owes an apology to the American people, because when he lied on me, he lied to them.”
In an interview that aired Sunday morning on Fox News, Trump defended Kelly as an “elegant” and “wonderful man” in response to Wilson’s criticism of Kelly, and said that he found her suggestion that Kelly had made his comments to “keep his job” to be “sickening.” The president added that the chief of staff considered the fact that Wilson overheard Trump’s call to Sgt. Johnson’s widow to be “unacceptable.”
“He was so offended that a woman would be — that someone would be — listening to that call. He said to me, ‘Sir, this is not acceptable,’” Trump said.
During the Fox News interview, Trump defended his call to Johnson’s widow, telling host Maria Bartiromo: “I was so nice. ... I’ve called many people, and I would think that every one of them appreciated it. I was surprised to see this, to be honest with you.”
Trump also took to Twitter to insult Wilson Sunday morning, tweeting that the member of Congress “is the gift that keeps on giving for the Republican Party.”
Tensions between the two have been escalating since Wilson, a Democratic representative in Florida, accused Trump of making a “disrespectful” call to the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who was killed during an ambush in Niger, in which Trump said Johnson “knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens it hurts anyway.”
Trump denied Wilson’s claims, taking to Twitter to dub the congresswoman “wacky” and say her comments were a “total lie.” Kelly then defended the president during a press conference, in which he hit back at Wilson by accusing her of bragging about securing funding for a Florida FBI building during a 2015 speech — even as video evidence has proven he misrepresented her remarks.
In response to the president’s Sunday tweet and ongoing nickname for her as “wacky Congresswoman Wilson,” Wilson said on MSNBC: “Well, that’s the way he is. And I’m sick of him giving people nicknames. He doesn’t want me to give him a nickname.”
Rather than continuing to personally attack Trump, Wilson instead put the focus on the ambush that killed Johnson — whose body somehow became separated from the other soldiers — and the many questions that still remain about his death, as the Trump administration faces criticism for not being more forthcoming about the circumstances of the attack.
“Today I want to set the record straight, and I want people to understand what is actually happening in Africa, and try to connect the dots, because I think this is going to be this administration’s Benghazi,” Wilson said Sunday.
“This is a catastrophe. We have four soldiers who died. They have been buried. And we need to know why, and we need to know about the special circumstances surrounding La David Johnson.”