Gen. John F. Kelly’s journey to the dark side is complete.
At best, he was seriously mistaken when he declared that in 2015 U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson boasted about securing the funds for the FBI’s new Miramar headquarters. At worst, the very worst, he lied.
Given the video of Wilson’s speech at the dedication ceremony released Friday by the Sun Sentinel, we, with regret, think he lied. In attempting to a provide cover for President Trump, whom Wilson criticized for an insensitive call to a Miami Gardens war widow, Kelly’s “recollection,” shared on Thursday at an extraordinary press conference was too specific, so detailed — and, of course, ropes in his boss’ imagined nemesis, President Obama:
“A congresswoman stood up, and in a long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money — the $20 million — to build the building, and she sat down, and we were stunned.”
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As the video makes clear, by the time “she sat down,” Wilson had praised the FBI, paid tribute to the two slain agents, whose names grace the building because of her efforts, and lauded her Republican colleagues for fast-tracking her legislation.
As Trump’s chief of staff, Kelly was supposed to be the adult in the nursery that used to be the Oval Office. But there’s something about the company he keeps.
Kelly’s willingness to stray so far from the truth, to lob insults at an elected official, to ignore what’s really significant — the unanswered questions of a military operation in Niger in which four Green Berets were killed, including Sgt. La David Johnson for whom funeral services were held in Miami-Dade on Saturday — all say that Trump is winning the battle to corrupt all who come within his sphere.
In truth, Trump’s enablers are required to do such intricate spin jobs on his behalf, that often they spin out of control.
And affirming the administration’s slide into authoritarianism, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday petulantly lectured reporters that questioning a four-star general such as Kelly was “highly inappropriate.” It was a chilling statement, and further proof of the Trump administration’s hostility toward not just the media, but the people — Americans — on whose behalf the media work.
Here’s what’s highly inappropriate:
For Kelly, according to Sanders, decry that his son Robert’s death while on a mission in Afghanistan became a political football last week — when Trump himself introduced the issue to score a field goal.
For the president to have manipulated Robert Kelly’s death for political gain in the first place.
For the president and his administration to wait almost two weeks before there was any mention from the White House on the Niger operation that went horribly wrong.
For the president and his administration to not seem to care one whit why it went horribly wrong, opting to engage in a needless distraction.
For Kelly to not apologize to Wilson for his attempt at character assassination.
And oh, the irony: Sanders continued her briefing-room absurdities Friday, saying: “As Gen. Kelly pointed out, if you’re able to make a sacred act like honoring American heroes about yourself, you’re an empty barrel.”
It’s time for Kelly to admit that he works for one.