Trump exploits John Kelly's dead son to back up his Obama falsehoods

Trump uses his chief of staff's grief to claim Obama didn't call parents of fallen soldiers

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 17, 2017 10:56AM (EDT)

Donald Trump, John Kelly (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
Donald Trump, John Kelly (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

President Donald Trump used the deceased son of his own chief of staff, retired Marine Corps. Gen. John F. Kelly, to score a political point in the ongoing controversy over his inaccurate claim that President Barack Obama often didn't call the families of deceased soldiers.

"You could ask Gen. Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?" Trump said on Brian Kilmeade's show on Tuesday morning.

Kelly's son, Robert, was killed in action while fighting in Afghanistan in 2010.

Trump's statement was a follow up to his controversial assertion on Monday morning that he was doing more than his predecessors to comfort the bereaved family members of soldiers who died in combat.

"All I can do is ask my generals. Other presidents did not call, they would write letters, and some presidents didn't do anything. I like, when I can, the combination of a call and also a letter," Trump said on Monday. Those remarks were the first public comments Trump had made about the deaths of four Green Berets and U.S. support personnel who were killed in Niger on October 4.

Trump's effort to use Kelly's deceased son in order to score a political point could add more tension to a relationship that has already had its fair share of difficulties. Reports of Kelly being frustrated with his erratic and unpredictable boss have leaked since August, and as recently as this week it was reported that Kelly was trying to take power to fill important jobs away from the Oval Office as a way of resolving the administration's ongoing staffing problem.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Barack Obama Donald Trump John Kelly