Trump Is Now Using Death of John Kelly’s Son to Back False Obama Claim

He claimed that Obama didn’t call families of fallen soldiers.

Ron Sachs/ZUMA

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President Donald Trump invoked the death of his chief of staff John Kelly’s son—a marine who was killed in 2010 while fighting in Afghanistan—in an attempt to further bolster his false claim that former President Barack Obama did not regularly contact the families of soldiers killed in action.

As far as past presidents, “You could ask General Kelly did he get a call from Obama?”  Trump said in a radio interview with Fox’s Brian Kilmeade on Tuesday. You could ask other people. I don’t know what Obama’s policy was. I write letters, and I also call.”

“I have called virtually everybody,” he added.

The explosive remarks come one day after Trump falsely asserted that Obama and other past presidents did not reach out to families of soldiers who were killed in duty, after being asked why he had yet to publicly offer condolences to the families of the four Green Berets who were killed in Niger more than two weeks ago. Many, including Obama’s former staff members, lambasted Trump’s falsehood as disrespectful and offensive:  

Shortly after Trump referred to Kelly’s son on Tuesday, an anonymous senior White House official said that Obama never called Kelly after the death of his son. (Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reportedly would only confirm this on background; it’s also unclear whether Kelly himself was asked to comment on Trump’s statements.) Kelly served as commander of the US Southern Command under Obama and sat with Michelle Obama during a 2011 White House breakfast honoring the Gold Star families. He has yet to issue a comment on the president’s newest controversy.

This isn’t the first time Trump has refused to back down from his false accusations, most notably being his repeated false claim that Obama had authorized a wiretap of Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential election. Kelly has previously avoided publicizing the death of his son, Robert Kelly. “The death of my boy simply cannot be made to seem any more tragic than the others,” he said in 2011.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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