In an explosive revelation, John Kelly, the former White House chief of staff during the Trump administration, has publicly criticized his one-time boss, Donald Trump, for privately disparaging U.S. service members and veterans. Kelly’s candid comments confirm the reporting by The Atlantic in 2020, which had shed light on derogatory remarks made by Trump during his presidency.
During a recent statement to CNN, Kelly did not mince words as he lambasted the former president. He recalled Trump’s derogatory comments, labeling those who served in uniform, endured combat injuries, or suffered years as prisoners of war as ‘suckers’ and insinuating that they had nothing to gain from their sacrifices. Kelly also revealed Trump’s reluctance to appear alongside military amputees, citing that it didn’t align with his image. Additionally, he criticized Trump’s open contempt for Gold Star families and his branding of America’s fallen heroes as ‘losers,’ highlighting his unwillingness to visit their graves in France.
The Atlantic’s reporting had also highlighted Trump’s private disparagement of notable figures such as the late Senator John McCain, a Vietnam prisoner of war, and former President George H.W. Bush, a World War II Navy pilot who was shot down. Trump’s derogatory comments weren’t limited to individuals but extended to groups, with his alleged labeling of Marines who died at Belleau Wood as ‘suckers’ and the fallen soldiers at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery as ‘losers’ during a visit to France in 2018.
Kelly didn’t stop at Trump’s remarks about service members and veterans; he went on to accuse Trump of being untruthful about his positions on various issues, including abortion, protection of unborn life, women’s rights, minorities, evangelical Christians, Jews, and working-class Americans. He painted a picture of Trump as someone who lacked an understanding of America’s core values.
Furthermore, Kelly condemned Trump’s recent statements about Army Gen. Mark Milley, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggesting that a dedicated warrior who had served the nation for four decades should face treason charges, insinuating that someone would take action. He criticized Trump’s admiration for autocrats and dictators and his contempt for democratic institutions, the Constitution, and the rule of law.
In response, Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump’s campaign, dismissed Kelly’s remarks as baseless and accused him of fabricating stories. The tension between Kelly and Trump had been palpable during Kelly’s tenure as chief of staff, marked by disagreements and conflicts.
Kelly had previously come to the defense of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman in 2020, who had raised concerns about Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which ultimately led to Trump’s first impeachment.
John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, served as Trump’s chief of staff from July 2017 until his departure in 2018, following a tumultuous tenure marked by challenges and reported frustrations. His appointment followed the ousting of Reince Priebus, Trump’s first chief of staff, after just six months in the role.