John Kelly, the longest-serving White House chief of staff during the Trump administration, has offered a scathing critique of former President Donald Trump’s behavior and attitudes toward US service members and veterans.
Kelly’s exclusive statement to CNN provides on-the-record confirmation of several alarming stories about Trump’s controversial remarks, shedding light on the former president’s contentious relationship with the military.
Kelly’s statement begins by expressing his frustration, stating that there is little left to add that has yet to be said about Trump’s behavior.
He highlights Trump’s disparaging comments about those who serve their country in uniform, emphasizing the former president’s derogatory language towards service members, veterans, and even prisoners of war.
Kelly witnessed Trump’s disdain for those who had sacrificed for their nation firsthand.
The former White House chief of staff recounts instances where Trump referred to military amputees as detrimental to his image, openly criticized Gold Star families, and labeled American heroes who gave their lives for their country as ‘losers’ and ‘suckers.’
Kelly also points out Trump’s inconsistencies regarding abortion, women’s rights, minorities, and various religious and ethnic groups.
Kelly goes on to criticize Trump’s admiration for autocratic leaders and dictators while expressing his concern about Trump’s apparent disregard for democratic institutions, the Constitution, and the rule of law.
John Kelly’s Revelations Shed Light on Trump’s ‘Divider’ Years
Kelly’s statement corroborates several details from a 2020 article in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg, including Trump’s confusion about why the American public respects former prisoners of war and soldiers who were shot down in combat.
Trump’s tendency to call Senator John McCain a ‘loser’ and refer to former President George H. W. Bush in the same manner reflects his attitude toward service members.
CNN reached out to the Trump campaign to seek comment on these revelations, which a former administration official confirmed on the record (Kelly).
In response, the Trump campaign disparaged retired Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley, unconnected to this story.
The revelations in Kelly’s statement provide additional context to stories detailed in the book “The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021” by Susan Glasser and Peter Baker.
One such tale describes Trump’s reluctance to include wounded veterans in a military parade, suggesting that it “doesn’t look good for me.”
Kelly’s statement also touches on a call made by Milley to reassure the Chinese military that Trump would not order a strike.
Trump responded to this revelation by suggesting that the act deserved death, an assertion that Milley declined to comment on directly but emphasized his unwavering commitment to the Constitution.
Kelly’s statement is the latest in a series of former Trump administration officials speaking out against the former president.
It underscores the deep divisions and controversies that marked Trump’s tenure in office and continues reverberating in American politics.