New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof said late Friday that White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE "fell into the muck" by offering incorrect information when attacking a Democratic congresswoman during a press conference this week.

"He certainly said something that was flagrantly untrue, that was recklessly stated without checking. It was kind of defamatory, and he fell into the muck," Kristof told CNN's Don Lemon regarding Kelly's comments aimed at Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonOvernight Defense: US shoots down Iranian drone | Pentagon sending 500 more troops to Saudi Arabia | Trump mulls Turkey sanctions | Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract Pentagon contractor charged with threatening to kill Rep. Frederica Wilson: report Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment MORE (D-Fla.).


Kelly incorrectly stated during the briefing that Wilson claimed credit for securing the funding for an FBI field office in honor of two fallen officers in 2015, comments that were contradicted by video that emerged on Friday.

Kelly's comments came during an appearance aimed at defending President Trump's call to the family of a soldier killed in Niger earlier this month after Wilson said Trump was insensitive during the call.

"He ventured into politics, he fell into the muck in ways that certainly damaged his reputation and further undermined that of the White House," Kristof told CNN, referring to Kelly.

Kelly's comments against the Democratic lawmaker on Thursday marked a rare move for the retired four-star Marine general, who has focused behind the scenes on bringing order to Trump's White House. 

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders criticized reporters in another briefing for questioning Kelly's comments, saying that it would be "highly inappropriate" to debate Kelly.