White House Chief of Staff John Kelly waits off to the side before speaking to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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Evoking slain son, Kelly defends Trump on condolence callsHe started by describing the reverent handling of America's war dead, bodies packed in ice and shipped home in the dark to Dover Air Force Base.From that opening, White House chief of staff John Kelly delivered a raw and searing monologue Thursday about the reality and pain of war sacrifice, praising those who serve and summoning the 2010 death of his own son to defend President Donald Trump against accusations of insensitive outreach to a grieving military family.The uproar over Trump and how presidents should or shouldn't try to console families of the fallen has rattled the White House and overshadowed the rest of Trump's agenda in recent days.Trump -- who has frequently struggled with showing empathy -- has emphatically rejected claims that he was disrespectful. But he started the latest controversy this week when he boasted about his commitment to calling service members' next of kin and brought Kelly into the issue by wondering aloud if President Barack Obama had called the former Marine general after the death of Kelly's son.Trump wanted to make the calls, and asked Kelly for advice on what to say. In response, Kelly told him what General Joseph Dunford, now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told him when Robert Kelly was killed.
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