Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) is defending herself against remarks made Thursday by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, saying she never stood up during the dedication of an FBI building and claimed to have secured funding for the project.
"He shouldn't be able to just say that, that is terrible," she told the Miami Herald. "This has become totally personal." On Tuesday, Wilson said President Trump made "insensitive" comments to the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, one of four soldier killed in Niger earlier this month. She knew Johnson through her mentoring program, and was with the Johnson family when Trump called. Johnson's family has backed up Wilson's version of events, but Kelly, in a press conference Thursday to try to clarify Trump's statements, also went after Wilson, calling her an "empty barrel."
Kelly claimed that during an April 2015 ceremony dedicating an FBI building in Florida, which he attended, Wilson stood up and "talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building" and said she "just called up President Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down." Wilson says that's ludicrous. "That building was funded long before I got to Congress," she told the Miami Herald. "I didn't say that. I have staff, people who write the speeches. You can't say that."
Wilson did sponsor legislation, signed three days before the ceremony, to name the building after Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, two FBI agents killed in 1986. Florida Republicans publicly applauded Wilson for that effort, as did James Comey, the FBI director at the time, who said at the ceremony that "Rep. Wilson truly did the impossible, and we are eternally grateful." Catherine Garcia