John Kelly, who served as former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, launched a blistering attack Monday against his former boss, going on record confirming that many of Trump’s critical comments about veterans and injured service members were true.
“What else can I add that hasn’t already been said?” Kelly told CNN in one Exclusive statement. “A person who thinks that those who defend their country in uniform, are shot down or seriously wounded in battle, or are tortured for years as prisoners of war are all ‘idiots’ because ‘there’s nothing in it for them.'” A person who who didn’t want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because “that doesn’t look good to me.”
“A person who, during the 2016 election campaign, demonstrated on television open contempt for a Gold Star family – for all Gold Star families – and raved that our most precious heroes who gave their lives defending America were ‘losers.’ and would not visit their graves in France.”
Kelly – a retired US Marine Corps general and former Department of Homeland Security secretary – was Trump’s longest-serving chief of staff. His comments confirm a variety of reports about Trump’s statements about service members, veterans and prisoners of war, both inside and outside the White House. The former president met with strong criticism when he expressed his dislike for the late Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), a prisoner of war in Vietnam, saying he liked “people who weren’t captured.”
The statement also supports the comments in a profile in The Atlantic last month by Gen. Mark Milley, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The piece included an anecdote in which Trump allegedly asked about a wounded Army captain who sang “God Bless America” at an event.
“Why would you bring people like that here?” Trump reportedly said. “Nobody wants to see that, the wounded.”
Kelly continued in his comments to CNN:
“A person who is not honest about his position on protecting unborn life, on women, on minorities, on evangelical Christians, on Jews, on working men and women. A person who has no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is about.
“A person who blithely suggests that a selfless warrior who has served his country for 40 years in peacetime and war should lose his life for treason – with the expectation that someone will do something.” A person, the autocrats and admired murderous dictators. A person who has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution and the rule of law.”
“There’s nothing more you can say,” he concluded. “God, help us.”
Trump’s campaign rejected Kelly’s comments in a statement to Axios. saying The general “made a complete fool of himself with these debunked stories that he made up because he did not serve his president well during his tenure as chief of staff.”