Rep. Frederica Wilson said Friday that White House chief of staff John Kelly lied when he criticized her for allegedly taking credit for securing funding for an FBI field office two years ago.
Kelly, speaking at a briefing Thursday afternoon, denounced Wilson after the Democratic congresswoman publicly criticized President Donald Trump’s comments during a phone call with the widow of a fallen soldier.
“I was not even in Congress in 2009 when the money for the building was secured,” the Florida Democrat said Friday on CNN’s “New Day.” “So that’s a lie. How dare he. However, I named the building at the behest of (then-FBI Director James Comey) with the help of (then-House Speaker John Boehner), working across party lines. So he didn’t tell the truth.” She earlier denied Kelly’s claim to the Miami Herald Thursday night.
Kelly was referring Thursday to an FBI field office in Miramar, Florida, that was dedicated in 2015 to two FBI agents who were killed during a gunfight with drug traffickers. The chief of staff said he was “stunned” by Wilson’s public comments at the ceremony dedicating the building.
“And a congresswoman stood up, and in a long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President (Barack) Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down,” Kelly said. “And we were stunned, stunned that she’d done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.”
Wilson told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that Kelly’s “empty barrel” remark was racist, but didn’t explain why.