Newswire : Former Congressman John Conyers has died at 90

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By Frederick H. Lowe
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com

Cong. John Conyers

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – John Conyers, Jr. the longest serving African American member of Congress and co-founder in 1969 of the Congressional Black Caucus, died Sunday in Detroit. He was 90 years old. The cause of death has not been revealed.

Mr. Conyers served 53 years in Congress and was once fondly known as the dean of the Congressional Black Caucus which he helped found in 1971. He was the sixth longest serving member of Congress before he resigned in 2017 amid sexual harassment allegations. During his tenure, he represented the 1st, 14th and 13th Congressional Districts in Detroit and the suburbs.

A graduate of Wayne State University and Wayne State University School of Law, voters elected Conyers to Congress in 1964. He took the oath of office in 1965 during the Civil Rights struggle. He befriended Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and he hired Rosa Parks to work in his Detroit congressional office when no one else would give her a job. Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of the great civil rights victories, when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a White man. Her refusal sparked the more than one year long Montgomery Bus Boycott that ended segregated seating on the city’s buses.

Conyers introduced the 1965 Voting Rights Act under President Lyndon Johnson, and he succeeded in establishing a national holiday honoring the birthday of Dr. King.

Conyers was chair of the House Judiciary Committee from 2007-11. As the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, he joined other committee members in 1974 submitting Articles of Impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon. However, Nixon resigned from office before he could be impeached.

Conyers was also chair House Oversight Committee from 1989 to 2004. The late Elijah Cummings held the same position when he died.

In addition, Conyers introduced in every Congress starting in 1989, legislation that would set up a commission to examine the institution of slavery in the nation and its colonies. The legislation recommended appropriate remedies.
He also pushed for a single-payer or government-directed health care system.

Conyers was the son of John Conyers, Sr., a labor lawyer. He was born in Highland Park, Michigan, on May 16, 1929. He served in the Korean War.He is survived by his widow and two sons.

Tributes from civil rights and Democratic leaders had begun to pour out this week.

“From co-founding the Congressional Black Caucus, to advocating for the creation of Martin Luther King Day, some of the most important civil rights victories of the last half-century would not have been possible without the enduring leadership of Rep. Conyers in Washington,” said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. “As a Detroit native, I can attest to what John Conyers meant to his beloved Detroit community, and we are eternally grateful that he fought for justice on behalf of the entire nation with the same commitment and perseverance he showed his beloved hometown. Today we have lost a trailblazer for justice, a titan of the movement, and a true friend and ally to the NAACP.”

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said, “Congressman John Conyers was a civil rights warrior, a lifelong public servant, and a stalwart Democrat. Over the course of his public service career, which spanned more than half a century, Rep. Conyers led groundbreaking fights that advanced the course of history, including introducing the first bill to establish the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. As a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, he changed the face of leadership in the halls of Congress and blazed a trail for future leaders of color.”
The Trice Edney News Wire contributed to this article.

Newswire : CBC Chair Karen Bass responds to Trump’s new offer to reopen the government

Rep. Karen Bass
WASHINGTON – Sunday, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), issued the following statement after President Trump announced a new offer in exchange for $5.7 billion for a border wall.
“The President’s proposal is yet another example of his willingness to use the well-being of Black and brown communities as a political pawn. DACA recipients deserve a permanent solution and Black Americans, who are disproportionately impacted by this shutdown, need to have the government immediately reopened.
“There are federal workers without paychecks, businesses unable to provide services for the government, and millions of families that depend on food stamps that don’t know when they’ll be able to afford their next grocery trip. That’s the crisis this shutdown has caused. The President could end it if he wanted to but unfortunately, today, he made it clear that he doesn’t.”

Newswire :  Rep. Karen Bass of California will lead the largest Congressional Black Caucus in history

 By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

 

 Representative Karen Bass (D-CA)

On November 27 during a long day of selecting who will lead Democrats in the for U.S. House for the next two years, members of the Congressional Black Caucus selected California Congresswoman Karen Bass to be the next Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. For the next two years, the CBC will be 55 members, the largest in history. Bass told NNPA after the vote that she wants to elevate individual members of the Caucus during her tenure. “One of my most significant goals I believe is to try to elevate the unbelievable accomplishments of individual members of the Congressional Black Caucus that I believe have not really received the attention and the acknowledgement that they deserve — that’s my agenda,” Bass told NNPA. The CBC will have more power within the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. House with five full chairmanships of top committees and also two members of the CBC, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), in leadership positions. Bass will be the 26th chair of the CBC, and the eighth woman to hold the position. Bass, 65, is a popular member of the CBC. She once served as the 67th Speaker of the California Assembly from 2008–2010 and is known for being tough and savvy. “From her days in the California General Assembly where she became the first African-American woman in U.S. history to lead a state legislative body, to her work in Congress to address both domestic and international issues affecting people of African descent, Congresswoman Bass has demonstrated tried and true leadership,” said outgoing CBC Chair Cedric Richmond. “From fighting for criminal justice reform and child welfare to affordable health care and a stronger economy for all, Karen has devoted her life to serving California families and African-American communities across the country. Karen is a proven leader who never backs down and always stands up for the values of inclusion and opportunity for all,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez in a statement after Bass was elected. Also elected were: Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH), 1st Vice Chair; Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), 2nd Vice Chair; Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA), Secretary; Congressman Donald McEachin (D-VA), Whip; and Congressman-elect Steven Horsford (D-NV), Parliamentarian.

Newswire : Pelosi announces push for staff diversity for new U.S House

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

With the largest Congressional Black Caucus in history along with a historic number of women entering the U.S. House in 2019, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced plans for a new emphasis on staff diversity in the U.S. House. The effort will call attention to the ongoing diversity problem on Capitol Hill. Very few senior staff positions on the Senate side are held by Blacks or Latinos. On the House side of Capitol Hill most staff top positions are employed by member of the CBC. “We know that the diversity in our ranks is a strength and a reflection of the American people,” Pelosi wrote to colleagues last week. She is expected to run for Speaker and lead Democrats once again when the new Congress convenes in January. A new House Diversity Initiative would create a permanent office in the House with sufficient staff to help recruit and retain diverse employees according to staff. Much of the pressure over the last few years regarding the diversity issue on Capitol Hill has come as a result of study and effort by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies headed by Spencer Overton. The Joint Center applauded Pelosi’s letter to her Democratic House colleagues emphasizing the importance of staff diversity. The letter featured several Joint Center recommendations. “Leader Pelosi deserves credit for laying down an early marker on the need to take action to increase top staff diversity in Congress,” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton. “This is a good start, and we look forward to continuing to work with Leader Pelosi to diversify congressional top staff.” Pelosi’s letter encouraged members of Congress to hire diverse staff. She also announced her hope that the Democratic Caucus would formally adopt the Rooney Rule, which requires interviewing at least one person of color for every top staff position. The top positions, or “senior staff” positions in each congressional office are: chief of staff, legislative director, communications director. “The incoming majority of the U.S. House of Representatives will be the most diverse in our nation’s history,” said Don Bell, Director of the Black Talent Initiative at the Joint Center. “Leader Pelosi’s letter is a good beginning toward the work ahead to ensure that the senior and mid-level staff of the U.S. House reflect the diversity of America.” The Joint Center published a report in September 2018 that found that although people of color account for 38 percent of the U.S. population, they account for only 13.7 percent of the top staffers of the U.S. House of Representatives (161 out of 1174 top staffers). Nine new members of the Black Caucus will likely include Lucy McBath (GA-06), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Lauren Underwood (IL14), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Colin Allred (TX-32), Illhan Omar (MN-08) and Jahanna Hayes (CT-02). There will also likely be five new African American full committee Chairmen and Chairwomen when the new Congress convenes in January.

Newswire :  Voter suppression scheme snuffed out in Georgia

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Contributor

 

The efforts of a prominent Washington, D.C. organization has resulted in a major voting rights victory for individuals of color in a small – but significant – Georgia town. District-based Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law led others including the ACLU of Georgia and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in successfully getting election officials in Randolph County, Georgia, to keep open polling sites in the mostly Black precincts. Officials in the town had voted to close the sites ahead of the midterm elections and as African-American female gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams counts as the favorite to win her race to become the state’s first Black female governor. “We won,” said Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Our community partners beat back a voter suppression scheme that was being undertaken by officials in Randolph County. Remarkably, officials were trying to shutter 7 of 9 polling sites in this poor, majority Black community,” Clarke said. The scheme undoubtedly was hatched to silence Black voters in the small rural, low-income community where many residents lack access to public transportation, she added. “The burden would have been felt heaviest by Black voters, who are three times more likely than white voters to lack access to a vehicle. We pushed back against this textbook example of voter suppression and we prevailed,” Clarke said. The effort has galvanized national civil rights and voting rights groups aiming to block attempts to suppress minority voter turnout in Georgia and in other states ahead of critical midterm elections, according to USA Today. The Congressional Black Caucus urged county election officials to drop the plan, saying it would violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act to close the polling sites so close to an election. “We are deeply concerned that the bedrock tenets of democracy would be under attack should this proposal be adopted and implemented,” the caucus wrote in a letter. The two members of the Randolph County Board of Elections and Registration voted unanimously not to make changes. The board, which has one vacancy, held two hearings on the proposal. Tommy Coleman, an attorney for the county in southwest Georgia, said he doesn’t think the board members meant harm by considering the proposal but that it might have been ill-timed. “It gives you the appearance that you’re trying to do something to alter the vote in November. I don’t think that’s the case. I’m certain it isn’t,” he told USA Today. “The people who do this in rural Georgia – these two people – are just volunteers.” The issue garnered national attention in part because of the historic nomination of Abrams, the Georgia Democrat who could make history if she wins in November. Abrams and Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is also running for governor, both called for officials to drop the plan. The proposal was offered earlier this year after the county hired a consultant when the election superintendent quit three weeks before the May primary, Coleman said. The consultant, Mike Malone, recommended closing the polling sites because they didn’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. But, Coleman said, the proposal “doesn’t seem to be backed up with any real data.” Critics of the proposal argue the sites were used for elections earlier in the year and in the years since the county was called out in 2016 for not complying with the ADA. “Why all of a sudden do you want it to be ADA compliant when you haven’t complied in all of this time?” said Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda. “What is the rush if it wasn’t a rush in all these years,” added Butler, who also serves on the Board of Elections in Morgan County, Georgia. Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan civic engagement group, said county election officials could have moved polls to local churches and other sites that are ADA compliant. “This is a blatant attempt at voter suppression,” she said. “Voter suppression in Georgia is a lot more sophisticated, I think, than people realize.” Coleman described Randolph County, the sixth smallest in the state, as very poor and struggling with a declining population and economic base. He said there have been discussions about the cost of polling sites because there were few voters there. For example, he said, one precinct had about 100 people. But Coleman said the timing of proposing closures could have been better. “It was probably ill-timed. We certainly went through the primary and the runoff from the primary and why we would need to do it before November in the teeth of this kind of heightened political environment, I think, is what the problem was,” he said. “It needs to be given more thought away from elections.” There have been lawsuits in the past over the county’s noncompliance with the ADA, Coleman said. The county used a $200,000 grant to upgrade some buildings, including the courthouse. Coleman said he suspects there are some buildings, including some of the firehouses that have been used for polling sites, that are not in full compliance. Coleman couldn’t say what steps the county will take to comply with the ADA, but he said, “I think they will now.” Meanwhile, Clarke and others celebrated the victory and vowed to remain vigilant on such issues. “The defeat of this proposal shows the power of resistance and the impact that we can have by leveraging our voices against injustice,” Clarke said. “We have seen these voter suppression schemes before – they have been pervasive throughout the 2018 midterm cycle… Now we move on to fighting other counties in Georgia that are entertaining similar tactics.”

Newswire : Former First Lady Barbara Bush Laid to Rest Black Caucus Chair: She ‘Championed the Cause of Literacy’

barbarbabush-presidentsfirst ladies.jpg Former Presidents and First Ladies attend Barbara Bush’s funeral

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – First Lady Barbara Bush was laid to rest on Saturday, April 21. Former Presidents George H. W. Bush, her husband, George W. Bush (her son); Bill Clinton and Barack Obama attended the services, held at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. First Lady Melania Trump and former first ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Michelle Obama also attended. President Donald Trump did not attend he said, to prevent the distractions of a presidential presence, such as security. The group posed for a photograph, released by the White House after the funeral.

Upon the death of Mrs. Bush, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.), released the following statement on the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush:

“Barbara Bush was not only the matriarch of an American political dynasty but the matriarch to many throughout the country – one who raised a family of national leaders, including a president and a governor. As First Lady, Barbara Bush championed the cause of literacy and understood, as the members of the Congressional Black Caucus understand, that education is the pathway out of poverty. The Congressional Black Caucus sends our thoughts and prayers to the Bush family as they mourn the loss of a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. We join the nation in our appreciation of Barbara Bush’s public service.”

Newswire : Conyers resigns from Congress; Calling for “complete disclosure” of records on sexual harassment

 

By Hazel Trice Edney

conyers3

 Congressman John Conyers (D- MI)

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a founding member of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus and the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, retired from the U. S. Congress this week, leaving behind a stellar civil rights career amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
Conyers, 88, under pressure from many of his colleagues and House leaders to resign, had initially stepped down from the House Judiciary Committee amidst the charges, but dropped the bombshell of his immediate retirement on the Detroit-based Mildred Gaddis radio show Tuesday.
“I am retiring today and I want everyone to know how much I appreciate the support and the incredible and undiminishing support I’ve received across the years from my supports, not only in my district but across the country as well.”
He added, “My legacy cannot be compromised or diminished in any way.
Conyers says he is supporting his son, John Conyers III to succeed him.”
Conyers, a lawyer, said in the interview that Congress should fully disclose the records of all of the $7 million that has been paid out by members of Congress in sexual harassment cases. “I think there should be a complete disclosure in revealing to all of the citizens of the country what federal legislators are doing or not doing and any cost that may have incurred as a result of that. So, my answer to that is a strong unequivocal yes,” he told Mildred Gaddis’.
Conyers continued to deny any wrongdoing “Whatever they are they are not accurate and they are not true. And they are something that I can’t explain where they came from,” Conyers said.
Conyers gave the interview while in a Detroit hospital. He had complained of light-headedness and chest pains last week.
Buzz Feed News revealed earlier this month that one unidentified staffer received a $27,000 settlement from Congress for wrongful dismissal from Conyers’ office in 2015. Melanie Sloan, a former Capitol Hill staffer for Conyers’ office, said during a television interview that on one occasion Conyers was dressed only in his undershorts and a shirt while working in his office.
Sloan admitted that Conyers did not approach her with sexual intentions. She also claimed Conyers yelled at her several times in the 1990s. In the charged atmosphere of Washington, D.C., yelling and temper flare ups are common. For example, the late U.S. Sen. John Heinz (R., Pennsylvania) angrily yanked his telephone out of the office wall so often that the telephone company refused to repair it.
The Washington Post named Maria Reddick, the congressman’s former scheduler, as the person who filed but later dropped a claim last February, accusing Conyers of inappropriate sexual advances. After Conyers had stepped down, 12 former staffers who are women claimed Conyers never behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner. “Mr. Conyers was respectful, valued our opinions and challenged our thinking,” the women said.
The 88-year-old Conyers was first elected to Congress in 1964. He represents Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. Previously, he represented Michigan’s 14th Congressional District. Known as the dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, Conyers is one of its 13 founding members, which was organized in 1971. The CBC has 49 members.
NorthStarNewsToday.com contributed to this story.

 

Newswire : U.S. Rep. John Conyers steps down from House Judiciary Committee amid sexual harassment charges

By Frederick H. Lowe

 

 

conyers

                                                        Congressman John Conyers
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a founding member of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus and the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, stepped down from his committee post on Sunday after a number of women had charged him with sexual harassment, sparking a Congressional investigation.
“After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me, I have notified the Democratic leader of my request to step aside as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee during the investigation of these matters,” Conyers said in a statement Sunday afternoon. “I deny these allegations, many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger,” the statement said. “I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics.”
Buzz Feed News revealed earlier this month that one unidentified staffer received a $27,000 settlement from Congress for wrongful dismissal from Conyers’ office in 2015. Melanie Sloan, a former Capitol Hill staffer for Conyers’ office, said during a television interview that on one occasion Conyers was dressed only in his undershorts and a shirt while working in his office.
Sloan admitted that Conyers did not approach her with sexual intentions. She also claimed Conyers yelled at her several times in the 1990s. In the charged atmosphere of Washington, D.C., yelling and temper flare ups are common. For example, the late U.S. Sen. John Heinz (R., Pennsylvania) angrily yanked his telephone out of the office wall so often that the telephone company refused to repair it.
The Washington Post named Maria Reddick, the congressman’s former scheduler, as the person who filed but later dropped a claim last February, accusing Conyers of inappropriate sexual advances. After Conyers had stepped down, 12 former staffers who are women claimed Conyers never behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner.
“Mr. Conyers was respectful, valued our opinions and challenged our thinking,” the women said.
The 88-year-old Conyers was first elected to Congress in 1964. He represents Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. Previously, he represented Michigan’s 14th Congressional District. Known as the dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, Conyers is one of its 13 founding members, which was organized in 1971. The CBC has 49 members.
CNN is reporting that several Congressional Black Caucus members are in talks to get veteran Rep. John Conyers to resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct, several Democratic sources told CNN on Tuesday.
Those members are trying to ease his exit without trampling on his legacy during his 50-plus years in the House. Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, is the longest currently serving member of the House of Representatives. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is not leading the effort but is tacitly supporting it, according to Democratic sources.

Conyers has denied wrongdoing in all of the cases and has repeatedly said he will not resign from Congress.

Newswire : Democrats, Black candidates win historic victories on election night

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

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Melvin Carter was elected the first Black mayor of St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday night, Nov. 7, 2017. (Screenshot/MelvinCarter.org)
The blue wave that swept the country last week wasn’t just a victory for Democrats, but a resounding win for African American candidates, who defied the odds—and Trumpism—to make history.
In Charlotte, N.C., voters elected the first female African American mayor in the city’s history, choosing Democrat Vi Lyles over Republican Kenny Smith.
In St. Paul, Minn., Melvin Carter became that city’s first Black mayor, earning slightly more than 50 percent of the vote in a field that featured 10 candidates and a write-in opponent.
In Virginia, Democrat Justin Fairfax trounced Republican challenger Jill Vogel in the race for lieutenant governor. In January, Fairfax will become only the second African American to hold statewide office in Virginia. Doug Wilder was the first, serving as lieutenant governor from 1986-1990, then as governor from 1990-1994.
Fairfax said his and other Democratic victories could “be the match that sparks the wildfire of progressive” change all across the country.“All across the world. This is a battle for the nation’s soul,” Fairfax said. “Since I announced my candidacy, this campaign has been about the future, about building a Virginia where all of us have the opportunity to rise.”
Most saw victories by Democrats as a referendum on President Donald Trump, whose record low job approval rating has shrunk to 39 percent according to various reports.
Republicans lost races for governor in Virginia, where Ralph Northam easily beat Trump-backed Ed Gillespie, and in New Jersey, where former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy won election as governor, defeating Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
Also, in Virginia, attorney general Mark Herring, a Democrat, won reelection over Republican John Adams while Democrats gained at least 10 seats in the House of Delegates.
The party also won key mayoral races in New York, Charlotte, Stamford, Conn., and St. Petersburg and, in a direct rebuke of Trump and Republicans who have tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, voters in Maine approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid under former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
On Twitter University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato wrote that the results were a “backlash to Trump and Trumpism, pure and simple.”
Results may have been helped by a strong get out to vote campaign launched by the NAACP. The legendary civil rights organization and its approximately 500,000 adult and youth members around the country were on the frontlines committed to raising awareness for political, educational, social and economic equality of minorities in the electoral process, the organization said in a statement posted on its website.
“The NAACP is actively engaged in increasing the African American responsiveness of citizens to be fully engaged in the democratic process,” the statement read.
Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s outgoing Democratic governor, told reporters that the election night victories were indeed a springboard for future elections, including the 2020 presidential race.
“This was a spark plug,” McAuliffe said. “This is the revitalization of the Democratic Party in America.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden said voters clearly sent a message to Trump. “A resounding defeat tonight for President Trump,” Biden tweeted. “Voters across the country rejected the ugly politics we have seen this past year. Instead, they chose candidates who unite and inspire us.”
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus also engaged voters. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), urged everyone to vote. “The vote is precious, almost sacred,” Lewis said. “It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society [so] use it.”
And, if that admonition wasn’t enough, the legendary civil rights leader reminded voters why participating is so important. “I was beaten, left bloody and unconscious so that every American has the right to vote,” Lewis said. “Friends of mine gave their lives. Do your part. Vote.”

Newswire : CBC women demand apology from Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly

By Hazel Trice Edney


Congresswoman Fredrika Wilson (D-FL) side by side with U. S. Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The women of the Congressional Black Caucus are demanding an apology from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly for his giving the public a false account of a speech given by Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and for calling her an “empty barrel”.
Kelly verbally attacked Wilson in defense of President Donald Trump after Wilson accused him of disrespecting the widow of a serviceman killed in a fierce battle in Niger Oct. 4. The body of U. S. Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson, the only African-American of four soldiers apparently killed during an Isis attack, was brought home to his widow Myeshia Johnson of Florida. He lay in a flag-draped coffin at Dover Airforce Base in Delaware.
Trump called Mrs. Johnson as she rode with her family and Congresswoman Wilson, a long-time family friend, to the airport last week. Among other words of condolences, Trump said, “He knew what he was getting into, but it hurts anyway,” according to Wilson, who listened to the President’s call on speakerphone at Mrs. Johnson’s request. Mrs. Johnson has now publically confirmed Trump’s words as recounted by Wilson. She said his tone made her cry.
“He couldn’t remember my husband’s name,” said Mrs. Johnson. “The only way he remembered my husband’s name is because he told me he had my husband’s report in front of him and that’s when he actually said ‘La David,’” she said in an interview on Good Morning America. “I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name. And that’s what hurt me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?”
Trump, in a tweet, had denied even using the words, “He knew what he was getting into.” Yet his Chief of Staff John Kelly recounted those exact words as did Mrs. Johnson and Wilson. Kelly said he is the one who advised Trump to use those words, based on words spoken to him as the father of a son killed in combat.
Yet both Kelly and Trump have attacked Wilson; the President calling her “wacky”. Kelly falsely stated that Wilson had bragged about raising money for a new FBI headquarters in an April 15, 2015 speech. A video tape of the speech actually showed her talking about successfully helping to name the headquarters – nothing about fundraising. She was not a member of Congress when the building was funded, she stressed last week.
“Today, the women of the Congressional Black Caucus issued the following statement in response to the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s release of a video of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) 2015 speech at the dedication of a new Miramar, Florida FBI Building,” said a statement from the women of the CBC. “The video confirms that Wilson’s account of the speech is true and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s account of the speech is false.”
The statement continues, “The women of the Congressional Black Caucus stand in strong support of our colleague, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. Congresswoman Wilson is a woman of impeccable integrity and a dedicated public servant. She is a highly respected Member of Congress who has demonstrated extremely competent leadership on a number of important issues, and we are especially proud of her fearless and uncompromising leadership to fight for the release of nearly 300 Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram.”
As the back and forth raged in the media, the body of Sgt. Johnson was laid to rest Oct. 21. His widow is left to raise two small children and she is pregnant with a third baby.
Few details are available about the attack that killed Sgt. Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright in a part of Niger where they apparently thought she would encounter no enemy fire. News that Johnson’s body was found a mile from the site of the attack after he was missing 48 hours after the others were found added even more mystery to the situation. The Pentagon is investigating.
Meanwhile, the women of the CBC remain outraged that the character of their colleague came under attack as she stood for her constituent. Kelly has stood by his false statements.
We were appalled by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s statements where he called Congresswoman Wilson an ‘empty barrel’ and accused her of taking credit for securing funding for a new FBI Building in Miramar, Florida that was named after two fallen FBI agents, Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove. A video of Congresswoman Wilson’s comments on that day has been released, and it provides indisputable proof that she never made any of the statements of which General Kelly falsely accused her,” the release said.
“General Kelly’s comments are reprehensible. Congresswoman Wilson’s integrity and credibility should not be challenged or undermined by such blatant lies. We, the women of the Congressional Black Caucus, proudly stand with Congresswoman Wilson and demand that General Kelly apologize to her without delay and take responsibility for his reckless and false statements.”