John Kelly Comes To Trump's Rescue On Gold Star Controversy

President Trump's chief of staff helped on Thursday to shift a controversy between Trump and the widow of a fallen soldier to the Democratic congresswoman who alleged Trump had upset the Gold Star wife, capping off a week of questions about Trump's outreach to military families.

John Kelly, himself a retired general and Gold Star father, attacked the media and Democrats in a rare public appearance at the White House on Thursday for what he described as their exploitation of a family's pain to score political points against the president. In doing so, he forced reflection among all sides of the debate about how they had approached a topic he described as "sacred" and potentially spared Trump from several additional days of scrutiny related to his treatment of military families.

Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., said Tuesday evening that Trump had telephoned Myeshia Johnson, wife of slain Sgt. La David Johnson, and told her her husband "must have known what he signed up for" when he joined the military. La David Johnson was among the four U.S. soldiers killed in an attack in Niger on Oct. 4. The Pentagon is still investigating the circumstances surrounding the apparent ambush.

Trump vehemently denied Wilson's characterization of the phone call, and the White House later claimed the president had called the families of every fallen military service member whose case had progressed through an internal review process.

Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist, said such overwrought criticism of Trump's many controversies can ultimately help him among his supporters.

"Whether he initiates it or they come at him, the more his opponents come for his jugular, it reminds his voters why they voted for him," O'Connell said.

Read more from Sarah Westwood at the Washington Examiner

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