John Kelly tries to defend Trump’s call to the families of the fallen soldiers

October 31, 2017

On October 19th, 2017, John Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff, appeared at the White House Press Conference to give an explanation to Trump’s phone call to the families of the 4 fallen soldiers at Niger on October 6th, 2017.

On Tuesday, a Congresswoman Frederica Wilson from Florida recently revealed through CNN that the phone calls that were made by the President Trump to the families were not appropriate. She recounted how Trump said, “knew what he signed up for … but when it happens, it hurts anyway” when he talked about the soldiers who had passed away. She emphasized how Trump was insensitive and disrespectful to the family members and that the president did not show any sympathy.

First, John Kelly emphasized the importance of the soldiers by saying that “They are the best 1 percent this country produce… and they volunteer to protect our country when there’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate, but required.” He thanked the efforts of the soldiers and referred them as the finest people the country has, showing their ultimate role in the nation.

Then, Kelly mentioned how he was the one who told Trump that other presidents that he had served did not make any direct phone calls to the families. Kelly said how Trump “asked [him] about previous Presidents” and told Trump that “President Obama, who was [his] Commander-in-Chief when [he] was on active duty, did not call [his] family” when his son passed away in Afghanistan. Kelly also said how the part he said Obama did not make a phone call is “not a criticism” or a “a negative thing,” but “was just to simply say.”

When Trump asked Kelly to how to make the phone calls, Kelly referred to his friend, Joe Dunford, and explained how Dunford said, the soldier was “doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war. And when he died, in the four cases we’re talking about, Niger, and my son’s case in Afghanistan – when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth: his friends.” Kelly underscored how the message from Dunford was “what the President tried to say to four families”.

At the end, Kelly depicted how he was “stunned” to hear that one of the people at the Congress would have listened to the conversation between the president and the family. He criticized the person who tried to overhear the call by saying that it “absolutely stuns [him]”. He added that he “thought at least that was sacred” and that the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield” is sacred.

<Julia NaWon Yoon/ University High School 11th grade>


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