Kelly’s account of Wilson remarks compared to excerpts
The text of what White House chief of staff John Kelly said about Rep. Frederica Wilson’s speech at a building dedication in the memory of two fallen FBI agents in 2015, and an excerpt from the Democratic congresswoman’s speech. Wilson’s remarks are taken from video of the event archived by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
In October, April, rather, of 2015, I was still on active duty, and I went to the dedication of the new FBI field office in Miami. And it was dedicated to two men who were killed in a firefight in Miami against drug traffickers in 1986 — a guy by the name of Grogan and Duke. Grogan almost retired, 53 years old; Duke, I think less than a year on the job. Anyways, they got in a gunfight and they were killed. Three other FBI agents were there, were wounded, and now retired. So we go down — Jim Comey gave an absolutely brilliant memorial speech to those fallen men and to all of the men and women of the FBI who serve our country so well, and law enforcement so well.
There were family members there. Some of the children that were there were 3 or 4 years old when their dads were killed on that street in Miami-Dade. Three of the men that survived the fight were there, and gave a rendition of how brave those men were and how they gave their lives.
And a congresswoman stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and 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. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.
But, you know, none of us went to the press and criticized. None of us stood up and were appalled. We just said, okay, fine.
Consider this scenario. The brand new federal building that will house the FBI has been built and the FBI approaches my office: ‘Congresswoman Wilson, the ribbon-cutting ceremony has been scheduled in four short weeks. The dedication is on the government calendar and cannot be changed. One problem: The FBI wants to name this gorgeous edifice at the same time in four weeks.’
Everyone said, that’s impossible. It takes at least eight months to a year to complete the process through the House, through the Senate and to the president’s office. I said, ‘I am a school principal,’ and I said, excuse my French, ‘Ah, hell no. We are going to get this done.’ Immediately, I went into attack mode. I went to the speaker, Speaker Boehner, and I said, ‘Mr. Speaker, I need your help, the FBI needs your help and our country needs your help. And we have no time to waste.’ And he went into attack mode and in two days pulled it out of committee and brought it to the floor for a vote. Representative Curbelo and I presented it, we all voted and I dashed it over to the Senate and put our senators on notice. Put it on your radar, Sen. Nelson and Sen. Rubio, who I believe have representatives here today. They hot-lined it to the Senate floor in just two days and guess what? The president signed the bill into law this past Tuesday, April 7, 2015, with a bang, bang, bang.