President Donald Trump politicized the death of his chief of staff’s son to slur his predecessor — and it appears he may not be telling the whole truth.
Trump claimed Monday that President Barack Obama did not call the families of slain service members, and he suggested Tuesday that the former president had disrespected retired Gen. John Kelly by neglecting to call when his Marine son was killed.
“You could ask General Kelly if he got a call from Obama,” Trump said.
It’s not clear that Obama offered condolences to Kelly by phone, but CNN’s Jeff Zeleny said the retired general and his wife joined first lady Michelle Obama at her table during a White House breakfast for Gold Star families in 2011.
Gen. Kelly and wife attended Gold Star families breakfast at WH in 2011 and sat at Mrs. Obama's table, person familiar with breakfast says.
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) October 17, 2017
The Associated Press confirmed that White House visitor logs showed that the Kelly family attended the event.
“President Obama engaged families of the fallen and wounded warriors throughout his presidency through calls, letters, visits to [Arlington Cemetery], visits to Walter Reed, visits to Dover, and regular meetings with Gold Star families at the White House and across the country,” a former White House official told Politico.
Second Lt. Robert Kelly was killed at age 29 while leading a platoon in Afghanistan in November 2010, and his father delivered a speech four days later about military sacrifices and the troops’ growing isolation from society.
His father has largely avoided speaking publicly about his family’s loss since then, and asked the Marine Corps officer who introduced him ahead of that impassioned speech not to mention his son.
“We are only one of 5,500 American families who have suffered the loss of a child in this war,” Kelly told the Washington Post six years ago. “The death of my boy simply cannot be made to seem any more tragic than the others.”