Even Trump's former chief of staff derides the GOP's Senate trial

The man who served as Trump's right-hand man seems convinced not only of Trump's guilt, but also of the need for the Senate to responsibly hold him accountable.

A few days ago, Donald Trump publicly addressed former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton's allegations, calling them "totally false." In an odd passive voice, the president added, "Nothing was ever said to John Bolton."

At roughly the same time, Trump's former White House chief of staff, John Kelly, was saying the opposite. "If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton," Kelly said, adding, "John's an honest guy. He's a man of integrity and great character, so we'll see what happens."

I'm not aware of Kelly ever describing Trump as an honest man of integrity and great character. Perhaps he hasn't gotten around to it.

Regardless, NJ.com reported today that the former White House chief of staff has some related thoughts on his former boss' impeachment trial -- and the degree to which he disapproves of Senate Republicans' recent tactics.

A Senate vote to end President Donald Trump's impeachment proceedings without calling witnesses should be considered "half a trial," the president's former chief of staff John Kelly said Friday.

"In my view, they kind of leave themselves open to a lot of criticism," Kelly said in an interview with NJ Advance Media in advance of his Feb. 12 appearance at Drew University's Drew Forum speaker series at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown.

"It seems it was half a trial," Kelly said.

He went on to say, "If I was advising the United States Senate, I would say, 'If you don't respond to 75 percent of the American voters and have witnesses, it's a job only half done. You open yourself up forever as a Senate that shirks its responsibilities."

As for Bolton's assertions that Trump ordered the quid pro quo, Kelly added again today that he believes the former national security adviser -- which necessarily suggests the retired Marine general believes the president both executed the scheme and lied about it.

All of which is to say, the man who served as Trump's right-hand man for a year and a half seems quite convinced not only of his former boss' guilt, but also of the need for the Senate to do a better job of holding him accountable.

The president hasn't yet responded -- I assume some tweets are on the way -- though the last time Kelly expressed some concerns about Team Trump, the White House issued an official statement with a decidedly North Korean flare.

"I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in October.

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