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Exclusive: Zach Fuentes, Top Aide to John Kelly, Denies Atlantic Story About Trump

Reported by MATTHEW BOYLE | Washington, DC

URL of the originating web site:

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

“You can put me on record denying that I spoke with The Atlantic,” Fuentes told Breitbart News on Monday. “I don’t know who the sources are. I did not hear POTUS call anyone losers when I told him about the weather. Honestly, do you think General Kelly would have stood by and let ANYONE call fallen Marines losers?”

He specifically also stated that he believes The Atlantic’s sources “are unlikely first hand accounts.”

“They are conflating those people from something the day after,” Fuentes said.

Fuentes also told Breitbart News he is upset that Trump has been speaking negatively about Kelly.

“On a separate note, I am disappointed to see POTUS talk about General Kelly so negatively in the middle of being accused of saying negative things about the military,” Fuentes said. “If anyone understands selfless service, it’s General Kelly.”

The fact that Fuentes—Kelly’s closest ally—is now publicly denying the report from The Atlantic is a monstrous strike against the credibility of the report. Several Trump critics, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton, have also denied this happened.

Every person who was allegedly in the room who has spoken up so far has denied the account of what happened. Fuentes’ denial, reported here exclusive on Breitbart News first, deals another strike against The Atlantic’s credibility.

“I also think any President, regardless of political affiliation, deserves to have candid and private conversations with trusted advisors,” Fuentes added in a text to Breitbart News. “If the President decides to talk about it, that is his right, but generally, I don’t think it is my place to divulge private conversations I’ve had with him.”

John Kelly defends Trump on calls, lashes out at Florida Democrat



John Kelly defends Trump on calls, lashes out at Florida Democrat

White House chief of staff John Kelly on Thursday delivered a stirring, personal defense of President Trump’s call to the widow of a fallen U.S. soldier, pushing back on mounting criticism of the president’s handling of the conversation. Kelly said he was “stunned” by Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson‘s (Fla.) negative description of Trump’s call to the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed during an ambush in Niger.

“It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. I would have thought that was sacred,” Kelly said during a surprise appearance in the White House press briefing room.

After learning of what he called Wilson’s “selfish behavior,” Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general whose son was killed in battle in Afghanistan, said he was so taken aback that he walked for an hour and a half in Arlington National Cemetery to compose himself.
Speaking slowly and solemnly, he described Thursday what happened when he learned his son had been killed.
“He was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed,” Kelly remembered being told by his casualty officer, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, who is now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“He knew what he was getting into by joining that one percent,” he added. “He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war.”

The controversy ignited late Tuesday when Wilson revealed Trump told Myeshia Johnson her husband “knew what he was getting into.”

The Florida lawmaker said she was in a car when Trump called and listened on speakerphone. She was invited to be present because she had a longstanding relationship with the family, and mentored the soldier through a program she founded. Wilson said Trump was “so insensitive” and caused Johnson emotional distress. 

Her description was backed up by the soldier’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, who said she felt disrespected.

A spokesperson for Wilson has not returned a request for comment.

Kelly said the message he received as a father of a fallen soldier was what Trump was trying to convey to Johnson’s widow, Mysehia.

“He expressed his condolences in the best way that he could,” he said.

Kelly’s extraordinary appearance was designed to quell the controversy over Trump’s comments that has engulfed the White House.

The episode has raised questions about the president’s ability to empathize with the families of U.S. service members. Out of anyone on Trump’s team, Kelly is perhaps best equipped to speak authoritatively about the issue. 

Kelly himself was drawn into the controversy after Trump, while defending himself, revealed former President Obama did not call Kelly to express condolences in 2010 after his son’s death.

The top aide refused to criticize Obama, saying that he believes most presidents have chosen to send letters, because calling the families of the fallen is “the most difficult thing you can imagine.”

“I can tell you that President Obama, who was my commander in chief when I was on active duty, did not call my family,” Kelly said. “That was not a criticism. It was just to say that I don’t believe President Obama called. That’s not a negative thing.”

Kelly said that he initially advised Trump not to make the phone calls, but the president insisted. He said Trump was “brave” for making the calls, because they are even more difficult for someone who has not served or lost a loved one.


Kelly’s emotional and tense remarks were also a rebuke of the press, which the White House blames for politicizing the matter.

Trump’s claim that Obama and other past presidents rarely called the families of U.S. military personnel who died in battle set off a round of fact-checking by media outlets and calls to some families that Trump either did not contact or took several weeks to contact.

But Kelly said he would only take questions from those who claimed to have lost loved ones in combat, like he has, or personally know someone who has.

Kelly fielded only three questions, which focused on the U.S. troop presence in Niger, and was not asked if he approved of Trump’s decision to invoke his son during the flap.

Kelly began his appearance by explaining in painstaking detail what happens to the bodies of soldiers killed in action abroad, describing how the corpses of the fallen are packed in ice and moved from combat zones to bases in Europe and then to Dover Air Force Base. Casualty officers are then dispatched to the homes of relatives, where they “proceed to break the heart of the family.”

“They’re the best 1 percent this country produces,” Kelly said. “Most of you as Americans don’t know them. Many of you don’t know anyone that knows any one of them. But they’re the very best that this country produces.”

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