Former chief of staff John Kelly rips Trump, confirms several harsh stories: The general-turned-chief of staff unloaded on Trump in an interview earlier this week.
Donald Trump Has a New Problem to Deal With Now
No president in the history of the country has had more former advisers or cabinet members turn against him during and after his presidency as Donald Trump.
NBC News reported in July that of the dozens of people who served in Trump’s cabinet over the course of his four years, just four of them have committed to supporting his candidacy in 2024. This includes even onetime core loyalists like former Attorney General William Barr. Multiple cabinet members, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, resigned following the January 6 Capitol riot and are not backing Trump’s effort to recapture the president.
The four who do support him include a couple of former acting secretaries — Richard Grenell and Matthew Whitaker — as well as his former chief of staff Mark Meadows. Meadows is among Trump’s codefendants in the Georgia RICO case.
Among those who have long since turned on Trump is John Kelly, the Marine Corps general who first served as Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security and was later White House Chief of Staff from 2017 to 2019.
An Atlantic article, published during the 2020 campaign, attributed quotes to Donald Trump in which he appeared to insult the nation’s war dead and were widely suspected of being sourced by Kelly.
Now, Kelly has come forward and confirmed that and other anecdotes on the record.
According to CNN, Kelly was asked to “weigh in” on his former boss and has not held back, both confirming anecdotes from the 2020 Atlantic story and adding new ones.
“What can I add that has not already been said?,” Kelly said in the CNN story. “A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all ‘suckers’ because ‘there is nothing in it for them.’ A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because ‘it doesn’t look good for me.’ A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family – for all Gold Star families – on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are ‘losers’ and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.”
That was a reference to Khizr Khan, the father of an American soldier killed in battle who had denounced Trump during the 2016 campaign. Trump, at the time, had implied that Khan’s wife was not allowed to speak when the parents appeared at the Democratic National Convention in 2020.
Kelly further unloaded on his former boss.
“A person who is not truthful regarding his position on the protection of unborn life, on women, on minorities, on evangelical Christians, on Jews, on working men and women,” the former White House chief of staff. “A person that has no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is all about. A person who cavalierly suggests that a selfless warrior who has served his country for 40 years in peacetime and war should lose his life for treason – in expectation that someone will take action. A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law.”
Trump has recently been battling with Gen. Mark Milley, who recently retired as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A recent profile of Milley, also in The Atlantic and also by editor Jeffrey Goldberg, also featured Donald Trump appearing to denigrate the service of U.S. war veterans.
Author Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.
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