The congresswoman who accused Donald Trump of offending the widow of a green beret killed in action says that the administration’s response to her claims included a “lie” and a “racist” insult.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told reporters on Thursday that he was “stunned” when he saw Rep. Frederica Wilson discussing the call between Mr Trump and Myeshia Johnson. Ms Wilson says she was in the car when the call took place, and that Mr Trump told Ms Johnson that her husband “knew what he was getting into”.
During the press conference he described a scenario in 2015 when he attended the dedication of a new FBI field office in Miami to two fallen agents. He described “a congresswoman” at the dedication as an “empty barrel”.
“A congresswoman stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and 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,” Mr Kelly said. He did not mention Wilson by name at any point during his remarks. “And she sat down, and we were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned."
Ms Wilson, a Democrat, interpreted Mr Kelly’s remarks as being directed at her, and disputes that she had laid claim to having secured the funding. She said that she played a role in naming the facility after the two agents, but was not in Congress when the funding was secured.
“I heard his remarks and I heard him say that I bragged that I secured the money for FBI building in Miramar, and that’s a lie,” she said. “I was not even in Congress in 2009 (she was elected in 2011) when the money for the building was secured. That’s a lie, how dare he.
“I feel sorry for General Kelly. He has my sympathy for the loss of his son. But he can’t just go on TV and lie about me."
Ms Wilson also accused Mr Kelly of using a “racist term” when he referred to her as an “empty barrel”.
“That’s a racist term — thinking about that, we looked it up in the dictionary because I had never heard of an empty barrel, and I don’t like to be dragged into something like that,” Ms Wilson said.
The term is frequently thought to be derived from a quote by Plato, denoting someone who makes a lot of noise but has little to say. “An empty vessel makes the loudest sound, so they that have the least wit are the greatest babblers,” the Plato quote reads.
The Independent has reached out to her office for further clarification on the issue.