Former White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly has some regrets.
As the “adult in the room” in the Oval Office during his tenure from July of 2017 until the beginning of this year and as head of the Homeland Security Department prior to that, Kelly was present during some of the Trump administration’s most egregious outrages including the nefarious family separation policy intended to deter the flow of refugees seeking asylum from the violence in their Central American home countries.
Having subsequently joined the board of Caliburn International — a company that operates for-profit detention facilities housing unaccompanied migrant children — after he left the White House, the family separation policy is not, however, one of his regrets about his participation in the Trump administration.
Instead, what General Kelly regrets is his decision to resign from his Chief of Staff role.
The reason? The fact that Donald Trump ignored his warning not to replace him with someone who would allow the president to do whatever he wanted, saying that installing a “yes man” in the Chief of Staff position was a sure step towards impeachment
Speaking at a political summit in Sea Island, Georgia, Kelly strongly suggested that the president’s current political disaster in the Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry is largely the fault of his successor, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and other senior advisors who either cannot or will not prevent Trump from digging his own grave.
According to an account of Kelly’s remarks by the host of the conference, The Washington Examiner, the former Marine general says that he privately counseled the president during his last week on the job that he would be impeached if he did not appoint a chief of staff with the guts to push back against Trump’s worst instincts.
“I said, whatever you do — and we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place — I said whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man,’ someone who won’t tell you the truth — don’t do that. Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached,” Kelly told an interviewer at the Examiner‘s Sea Island Summit political conference.
“That was almost 11 months ago, and I have an awful lot of, to say the least, second thoughts about leaving,” Kelly continued. “It pains me to see what’s going on because I believe if I was still there or someone like me was there, he would not be kind of, all over the place.”
Kelly’s blunt comments on the competency of his successor in corralling the rogue and constitutionally clueless president— besides being so self-serving as to suggest that the former general has a serious hero complex — indicates what a valuable witness he could be for the congressional committees currently investigating Trump. For if General Kelly has enough insight into the president’s worst impulses to realize that he needs someone at his side ever vigilant to keep them in check, imagine the details of past transgressions to which he must be privy.
Unlike some Republicans who feel that Democrats were bound to impeach Trump no matter what, Kelly feels that impeachment could have been avoided, placing the burden of responsibility for its eventuality on the administration itself.
“Someone has got to be a guide that tells [the president] that you either have the authority or you don’t, or Mr. President, don’t do it,” Kelly insisted. “Don’t hire someone that will just nod and say, ‘That’s a great idea Mr. President.’ Because you will be impeached.”
“The system that should be in place, clearly — the system of advising, bringing in experts in, having these discussions with the president so he can make an informed decision, that clearly is not in place. And I feel bad that I left,” Kelly added.
If the general’s departure from the Chief of Staff role was indeed the determining factor in instigating Trump’s impeachment, the rest of us should be thanking him for his decision to leave the administration.
Kelly may not feel good about it, but the majority of Americans now support the impeachment of the president and his removal from office, and we feel just great.
It’s the end of the world as Trump knows, it and we feel fine.
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Original reporting by David M. Drucker at The Washington Examiner.