U.S. Markets open in 6 hrs 38 mins

African-American members of Congress demand Trump's chief of staff apologise for 'blatant lies'

Jeremy B White
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson said she was with the grieving family when Mr Trump called: Getty

African-American members of Congress are demanding that Donald Trump’s chief of staff apologise for what the lawmakers called “blatant lies” about a colleague attacked by the President in recent days.

The clash between the Trump administration and Rep Frederica Wilson, Democrat of Florida, originated with Rep Wilson criticising the President’s call to the widow of a slain soldier. According to Rep Wilson, Myeshia Johnson was offended by Mr Trump’s remark that her late husband, Sgt La David Johnson, “knew what he signed up for”.

Both Ms Johnson and her mother-in-law have corroborated the account, but differing interpretations of the call have fuelled a feud between Rep Wilson and Mr Trump, who has repeatedly attacked her. So too did Mr Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly - whose son died in combat - with Mr Kelly calling Rep Wilson an “empty barrel” and saying she had claimed credit for winning funding for an FBI building in Florida.

Video of Rep Wilson’s speech posted by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel undercut Mr Kelly’s accusation. It shows Rep Wilson praising a bipartisan effort to name the building after two fallen FBI agents in time for its unveiling, but she does not boast about securing funds.

Now well over a dozen African-American women in Congress say Mr Kelly owes Ms Wilson an apology.

“General Kelly’s comments are reprehensible. Congresswoman Wilson’s integrity and credibility should not be challenged or undermined by such blatant lies. We, the women of the Congressional Black Caucus, proudly stand with Congresswoman Wilson and demand that General Kelly apologize to her without delay and take responsibility for his reckless and false statements”, a statement from the Congressional Black Caucus said.

The President has not let up in his broadsides against Rep Wilson, assailing her as “wacky” and a “disaster for Dems” in a Sunday morning tweet. His continued criticisms have drawn reproach from other Republicans.

“I would just urge President Trump, let's talk a little bit about the four soldiers” that included Sgt Johnson rather than attack Rep Wilson, Sen Lindsey Graham said during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press.