While she stopped short of accusing Mr. Kelly, a retired Marine general, of racial animus, she did say that others in the White House are racially biased.
âThey are making themselves look like fools. They have no credibility,â she said. âThey are trying to assassinate my character, and they are assassinating their own because everything they say is coming out and shown to be a lie.â
Mr. Trump and his top aides remained defiant Friday in the face of the escalating criticism about the way he and Mr. Kelly have handled the sensitive subject.
After a late-night tweet on Thursday from Mr. Trump in which he called Ms. Wilson âwacky,â aides continued to insist that Mr. Kelly had told the truth when he attacked the congresswoman.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said on Friday that Mr. Kelly âabsolutelyâ stands by his Thursday remarks.
âGeneral Kelly said he was âstunnedâ that Representative Wilson made comments at a building dedication honoring slain F.B.I. agents about her own actions in Congress, including lobbying former President Obama on legislation,â Ms. Sanders said in a statement. âAs General Kelly pointed out, if youâre able to make a sacred act like honoring American heroes about yourself, youâre an empty barrel.â
Ms. Sanders escalated the messaging a few hours later, when she accused reporters of inappropriately criticizing Mr. Kelly and insisted that Ms. Wilson had been grandstanding during her speech in front of the F.B.I. building in 2015.
âAs we say in the South: All hat, no cattle,â Ms. Sanders said. Ms. Wilson is known in the Capitol and in South Florida for her colorful hats.
Ms. Sanders also said, âIf you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think thatâs highly inappropriate.â
The charges and countercharges on Friday veered into the incendiary issue of race. Ms. Wilson is African-American, as is Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, one of four American soldiers killed in an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger.
Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus echoed Ms. Wilsonâs accusations, though other black lawmakers noted that Mr. Trump attacks people of all races.
Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat and the Virgin Islandsâ delegate to Congress, said she was especially offended that Mr. Trump did not seem to know Sergeant Johnsonâs name.
âHe continually called that fallen soldier âyour guyâ to his wife. That was his wife,â she said. âIt was almost as if he doesnât believe that we have husbands and wives as black people. And that I find very disturbing, that he would not give her the respect of calling that soldier her husband.â
âI think he challenges anybody who goes after him and corrects him, whether they are black or white or male or female,â she continued. âI think the attack is more stark when it is a woman of color.â
The issue exploded this week when Ms. Wilson went public to say that in a condolence call to Ms. Johnson, Mr. Trump had said that Sergeant Johnson âknew what he signed up for.â Mr. Trump flatly declared that Ms. Wilsonâs account was fabricated, but on Thursday, when Mr. Kelly defended the president, he did not refute Ms. Wilsonâs account.
Instead, he accused her of turning Sergeant Johnsonâs death into a political stunt.
Mr. Kelly said he and the congresswoman were both at the 2015 ceremony for a new F.B.I. building in Miami that was named after Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove, agents who were killed in a 1986 shootout. Mr. Kelly said Ms. Wilson had taken credit for getting the funding for the building. Ms. Wilsonâs congressional district includes parts of Miami.
âAnd we were stunned â stunned that sheâd done it,â Mr. Kelly said. âEven for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.â
During the April 2015 dedication ceremony for the building that houses the F.B.I.âs South Florida operations, Ms. Wilson spoke about how quickly she was able to get a bill through the typically slow and bureaucratic Congress.
âIt is a miracle to say the least,â Ms. Wilson said of the swift legislative action. But, she said, the quick passage shows how much respect Congress has for the F.B.I.
âMost men and women in law enforcement leave their homes for work knowing that there is a possibility they may not return,â Ms. Wilson said.
A White House spokesman on Friday said it stood by Mr. Kellyâs account of her remarks.
In a Twitter post late on Thursday, Mr. Trump said that Ms. Wilson was âSECRETLY on a very personal call,â and âgave a total lieâ about what he had said.
Ms. Wilson, a friend of the Johnson family, was in a limousine with the family waiting at Miami International Airport to meet Sergeant Johnsonâs coffin when Mr. Trump called. Ms. Wilson heard the call because it was on a speakerphone.