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17 Black Female Lawmakers Call on Kelly to Apologize

They accuse him of telling 'blatant lies' about Frederica Wilson
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2017 5:47 AM CDT
Updated Oct 23, 2017 6:29 AM CDT

(Newser) – The John Kelly-Frederica Wilson controversy moved up a level Sunday when most of the black women in Congress called for Trump's chief of staff to apologize to the Florida lawmaker. Some 17 female members of the Congressional Black Caucus issued a statement calling for Kelly to "take responsibility" for "reckless and false statements" and apologize for "blatant lies" about Wilson, Politico reports. Amid a dispute over a call from President Trump to the family of one of the soldiers killed in Niger, Kelly claimed that Wilson, a Democrat, had boasted about securing funding for an FBI building dedicated to two slain agents, but video of the building's dedication contradicted his claims. In other developments:

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  • Trump attack. Trump attacked Wilson again on Sunday, tweeting: "Wacky Congresswoman Wilson is the gift that keeps on giving for the Republican Party, a disaster for Dems. You watch her in action & vote R!"
  • An emotional burial. Sgt. La David Johnson, whose widow Trump spoke to, was laid to rest in Florida on Saturday, the Miami Herald reports. Speakers described Johnson's tough childhood and said the 25-year-old was determined to build a better life for his wife and two children. A third child is due in January. The only mention of controversy was a line in an opening prayer calling for "clarity for the circumstances surrounding his death."
  • Calls for the full story. Oklahoma's Sen. James Lankford has added his voice to those calling for lawmakers to be given the "full story" on what happened in Niger, Politico reports. "We have all the same questions that have already been mentioned there as well to find out what actually happened. That's the key aspect right now, is all the facts that are on the ground," the Republican said Sunday. A congressional source says the four US deaths were the result of a "massive intelligence failure."

  • Khizr Khan. The Gold Star father who clashed with Trump last year said Sunday that Kelly should not have "indulged in defending behavior of the president and made the situation even worse," Mediaite reports.
  • "Character assassination." Wilson called for an apology from Kelly on Sunday, accusing him of "character assassination," the Hill reports. In media appearances, she called him a "puppet of the president" and said he also owed the American people an apology. Wilson called the Niger deaths a "catastrophe" and called for the government to release more information.
  • "Strategy of dismissal." In an op-ed at the New York Times, Charles M. Blow describes Trump's attacks on Wilson as part of a pattern in which the president singles powerful women out for attack, "particularly if the women are black or brown or if they have directly challenged Trump." Part of this "strategy of dismissal is to portray these women as mere ideological, party-serving puppets, rather than as fierce advocates with their own opinions and power," Blow writes.
  • Fact check. The AP fact-checked the controversy and found that Kelly's "recollection was incorrect" about the building dedication. Kelly and Trump were also wrong when they claimed Wilson had "secretly" listened to Trump's conversation with Johnson's widow: The call had been put on speakerphone in the vehicle both women were in.
(Read more John Kelly stories.)

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