CNN anchor Anderson Cooper accused President Donald Trump of using the example of the deceased son of White House chief of staff John Kelly in order to defend his comments about past presidents neglecting the families of fallen soldiers.
Here's the video of Cooper's comments:
Here's what he said:
"Even though this next story concerns the latest outrage over the latest thing that President Trump said, it would only compound that outrage by beginning the story with his words or even characterizing them," he said. "You'll hear them soon enough and you can decide for yourself what to make of them."
"We're gonna begin the story instead with the words of the Marine Corps general," Cooper continued. "Back then, a three-star general, who would go on to serve first as Secretary of Homeland Security and now as the president's chief of staff.
"Back in November of 2010," he explained, "General Kelly about to address the Semper Fi Society in St. Louis had only one request for the Marine introducing him — just a few simple words. 'Please,' he said, 'don't mention my son.'"
"The Marine did not and General Kelly took the podium," Cooper said. "He talked passionately about the sacrifices that families and servicemen and women make. He told the story of two Marines who gave their lives in Iraq while saving hundreds more. He did not, not even once, mention his son, Marine 2nd Lt. Robert Kelly, who had been killed in Afghanistan, just four days earlier."
"He did not speak about how proud he was that Robert had enlisted and risen through the ranks," he added, "seen combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. He did not mention the unit he commanded nor the losses they took. And he's only rarely spoken of him since."
Cooper criticizes Trump
"Well this morning President Trump took General Kelly's deeply private, searing and eternal loss, and made it about his own momentary, personal gain," Cooper explained.
"Just a few days after falsely claiming that past presidents, specifically President [Barack] Obama," he continued, "did not call the families of fallen troops, he said this:"
"I mean you could ask General Kelly," Trump said in the recorded comment, "did he get a call from Obama? You could ask other people. I don't know what Obama's policy was."
Cooper pointed out that Obama had invited Kelly and his family to a breakfast at the White House for Gold Star families. He then went on to list many of the instances where Trump slighted or criticized a member of the military or their families, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
"And now the president," he continued, "who avoided serving in Vietnam multiple times yet says his war-time experience dodging VD [venereal disease] was just like combat, has brought his chief of staff's profoundest personal loss into the public realm, because he simply cannot be wrong.
"It would be one thing if he'd been the one to lose his son in combat," Cooper concluded. "It's another when he's not."
Are Cooper's accusations fair?
The White House has been defiant against any criticism of President Trump's verifiably false accusation that former presidents didn't visit or call the families of fallen soldiers. If Trump spoke about General Kelly's son against his wishes, it is unlikely that Kelly will admit to publicly, leaving Cooper's accusations in the realm of speculation.