Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus said on Sunday that Americans need to unite behind Gold Star families, following the controversy over President Trump's phone call to the widow of a soldier killed in Niger. 

"It's obviously an unfortunate situation. We need to unite behind our Gold Star families to embrace them with compassion and support, not to drag them into partisan politics," Petraeus told ABC's Martha Raddatz on "This Week." 

"Sadly I think this is a bit symptomatic of what, I think, is afflicting our country right now," he continued, saying that the most important threat the U.S. faces is "parochialism."


The former CIA director went on to say that the intense partisanship across the country, especially in Washington, has "prevented us from resolving issues that could allow us to capitalize on extraordinary opportunities."

Petraeus's comments come as Trump finds himself in a six-day feud with Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonBiden's embrace of Trump-era border policy frustrates Democrats Five big questions as Jan. 6 panel preps subpoenas Biden to meet with Surfside families as rescue efforts enter eighth day MORE (D-Fla.) that has engulfed his chief of staff, John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, over the president's phone call to the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson.

Wilson, who was present for the call, said last week that Trump made insensitive remarks to Johnson's widow, Myeshia, when he said Johnson "knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens it hurts anyway."

Trump hit back at Wilson on Twitter, and accused her of fabricating the account. 

Kelly in turn offered an emotional defense of Trump, describing his experiences as a Gold Star father at a White House press briefing on Thursday. 

The chief of staff also slammed Wilson, referring to her as an “empty barrel," and said he was stunned to learn she had listened in on the call and spoke to the media about it. 

The controversy extended into Sunday with a fresh tweet by Trump calling Wilson “Wacky Congresswoman Wilson.”