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Kelly: I'm "stunned" that Rep. Wilson listened to Trump's call

At Thursday's briefing, the Chief of Staff only called on reporters who know gold star families for questions. Photo: Susan Walsh / AP

Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly said Thursday he did not receive a phone call from President Obama when his son was killed in Afghanistan. "That's not a criticism," Kelly added. He said that he initially advised Trump not to make phone calls to families.

Kelly told Trump, "There's nothing you can do to lighten the burden." The president called the four families who lost soldiers in Niger and offered condolences in "the best way he could ... It stuns me" that a member of Congress listened in on that phone call. "I thought at least that's sacred," he said. The Chief of Staff also confirmed that the president told Myeshia Johnson her husband "knew what he signed up for" and added Trump meant the statement as a testament to La David Johnson's heroism.

  • On soldiers who are killed in battle: "They are the best 1% this country produces."
  • Who writes letters to the families? The Secretary of Defense and the President "in my case," Kelly said.
  • Who calls the families? "Some presidents have elected to call. All presidents have elected to send letters." Obama and Bush typically did not make calls, Kelly said.
  • On the situation in Niger: "An investigation does not mean ... people's heads are gonna roll."
  • Kelly spent over an hour at Arlington Cemetery yesterday to "collect [his] thoughts."
  • To reporters, Kelly said: I appeal to you "as you write your stories to keep this one last thing sacred — men and women giving their lives for their country."
  • The Chief of Staff only called on reporters who know gold star families for questions.