White House Backs Kelly’s ‘Empty Barrel’ Criticism After Video Contradicts His Account

sun sentinel screenshot/frederica wilson fbi miami field office dedication speechsun sentinel screenshot/frederica wilson fbi miami field office dedication speech

The White House issued a statement Friday reiterating White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly’s indictment of Rep. Frederica Wilson as a “empty barrel,” after a video of her speech at an FBI building dedication contradicted Kelly’s account of the episode.

“Gen. Kelly said he was ‘stunned’ that Rep. Wilson made comments at a building dedication honoring slain FBI agents about her own actions in Congress, including lobbying former President Obama on legislation,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in statement. “As Gen. Kelly pointed out, if you’re able to make a sacred act like honoring American heroes about yourself, you’re an empty barrel.”

Sanders’s statement comes after the Sun Sentinel released a video Friday of Wilson’s 2015 speech at the FBI field office dedication ceremony.  The video shows that Wilson discussed her role in naming the field office after two slain FBI officers, but she never claimed to have secured the funding for the project during a phone call with former President Barack Obama, as Kelly suggested.

Kelly made the comments during a Thursday press briefing in which he lambasted Wilson for her public critique of President Donald Trump’s phone call with a gold star widow. He cast Wilson’s comments at the building dedication ceremony as obnoxious, saying that he was “appalled” that Wilson spoke about her own political accomplishments after previous speakers described the heroism of the slain FBI officers that the building was being named after.

“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 Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money — the $20 million — to build the building, and she sat down, and we were stunned,” Kelly told reporters Thursday.

Wilson pushed back Thursday night, accusing Kelly of lying about her speech and pointing out that the funding for the project was secured in 2009, prior to her election as a congresswoman.

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