Kelly's stunning rebuke of Wilson came amid a days-long feud between the congresswoman and Trump over his phone call to Myeshia Johnson, Sgt. Johnson's widow.
"The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem", Trump said. He started out the press conference by outlining what happens when a service member dies in combat. Their bodies are "packed in ice" and flown to Europe, where they are "packed in ice again, and flown to Dover". Embalms them. Meticulously dresses them in their uniform with the medals they earns and puts them on another airplane to take them home. Then, he said, a casualty officer "breaks the heart" of a family. I had a very nice conversation with the woman, with the wife, who sounded like a lovely woman.
The answer to that question was no, Kelly said Thursday, though he stressed "that was not a criticism".
Kelly called Wilson an "empty barrel".
After the initial backlash to his comments, Trump told Fox News Radio host Brian Kilmeade to ask Kelly whether Obama called him when his son Robert was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. "Some presidents have elected to call".
The fallen soldier's mother on Wednesday confirmed that Wilson accurately repeated what the president said. The only thing that could be proof would be a recording of the call. "There is no flawless way to make that phone call". In the above clip, Kelly stressed that while advising Trump on calling Gold Star families, "My first recommendation was that he not do it".
That phrasing is similar to what Johnson's family said Trump told them, that the sergeant "knew what he signed up for". That was not a criticism.
He then said a military friend had told him how he handled the calls. "That's not a negative thing".
He also papered over Trump's decision to compare his communications with the families of fallen soldiers with those of his predecessors, namely Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
Sgt. La David Johnson was among the four United States soldiers killed by enemy fire in the October 4 ambush.
Trump denied Wilson's account in both a tweet and a statement made at the White House. "He knew what the possibilities were because we were at war", Kelly said, channeling Dunford's words to him upon the death of Kelly's son.
But, Kelly said, he told Trump that he was told when his son died, "He was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed". He knew what he was getting into by joining the Marines, that 1 percent. Johnson died in a deadly ambush in Niger on October 4. "That's what the president tried to say to the four families".
"It's not the phone call that family members are looking forward to", Kelly said.
She added that Trump "was nearly like joking" and that his comment was "absolutely insane, unnecessary".
The White House chief of staff said in the White House briefing room that Florida congresswoman Frederica Wilson was "an empty barrel". "I thought that, at least, was sacred". "I just thought that that might be sacred".