WHITE HOUSE Chief of Staff John F. Kelly owes Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) an apology. That is the only conclusion that can be drawn after watching a video of the representative’s remarks at the dedication of an FBI building in Miramar, Fla., in 2015.
Mr. Kelly took to the lectern in the White House briefing room Thursday to defend President Trump’s handling of a condolence call to a widow of one of the soldiers killed in Niger and to attack Ms. Wilson as selfish and politically motivated for her criticism. To bolster that characterization, he offered up his remembrance of the dedication of the FBI building in memory of two FBI agents who had been killed in the line of duty. He claimed Ms. Wilson used the occasion to take unseemly credit for securing federal funding for the building. “We were stunned,” he said, “stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.”
But, as a video by the Florida Sun-Sentinel of Ms. Wilson’s remarks that day shows, Mr. Kelly got it all wrong. She did not say she got money for the building. She was generous and graceful in sharing credit for how legislation naming the building was fast-tracked. And she spent most of her nine-minute speech praising the FBI agents killed in a gunfight with drug dealers: “Today it is our patriotic duty to lift up Special Agent Benjamin Grogan and Special Agent Jerry Dove from the streets of South Florida and place their names and pictures high, where the world will know that we are proud of their sacrifice, sacrifice for our nation.”
It is unfortunate that the sacrifice of brave people such as these two agents or the four soldiers killed in Niger can get overwhelmed by the petty name-calling of politics. That is a point Mr. Kelly was trying to make Thursday, and that he undercut with his misrepresentation of Ms. Wilson. He needs to set the record straight.