"That was the message that was transmitted" by President Trump to Myeshia Johnson, Kelly said.
In fact, the chief of staff said that when Trump took office, he advised him against making those calls: "I said to him, 'Sir there's nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families'".
"She also had quite a few comments that day that weren't part of that speech and weren't part of that video that were also witnessed by many people that were there", Sanders said, referring to "what Gen. Kelly referenced yesterday".
Pressed on the matter during Friday's press briefing, Sanders said Kelly was "stunned that Rep. Wilson made comments at a building dedication honoring slain Federal Bureau of Investigation agents about her own actions in Congress, including lobbying former President Obama on legislation".
Kelly made the comments at the White House on Thursday while discussing President Trump's conversations with the families of four US soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger earlier this month. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. And we were stunned, stunned that she'd done it.
Discussing Kelly's remarks, Tapper said the chief of staff spent his time at the podium "deriding politics and the sullying of grief in this whole controversy, but he is just laying rhetorical body blows and insulting, personally, the Congresswoman".
"If you want to go after Gen. Kelly, that's up to you", Sanders said.
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A Johnson family member, who also heard the conversation, backed up Wilson's account.
It appears, according to General Kelly, he did. "He knew what the possibilities were".
President Donald Trump's latest Twitter foe is a Democratic U.S. congresswoman from Florida who wears a glittering cowboy hat.
"That was just simply to say I don't believe President Obama called". But a video of her remarks at the dedication shows she never took credit for getting the government to come up with the money for the project. "I thought at least that was sacred", he said. Somehow, she perceived part of his speech as being "racist". Those calls, he said as he fought back tears, were the most important.
What proof? Kelly listened to Trump's end of the conversation, the White House said.
Brianna Keilar was struck by Huckabee Sanders' "absurd statement" about the media continuing to cover this, while former retired Rear Admiral and State Department spokesman John Kirby agreed that of course Kelly "should be questioned" and scrutinized by the press. Of those families who agreed to speak, about nine said they had contact with the president while nine others said they had not.
He also described how he and his wife learned of their own son's death.