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John Kelly, Trump's former chief of staff, is no longer holding back

It says a lot about the former president that the man who served at his side for a year and a half seems to hold him in barely contained contempt.


John Kelly served as Donald Trump's White House chief of staff for 17 months, and after parting ways with the Republican president, the retired Marine general said very little about his former boss and place of employment.

His reticence did not last. Business Insider reported:

John Kelly, Donald Trump's former White House chief of staff, did not mince words about his ex-boss as rioters violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, according to a new book. "If he was a real man, he would go down to the Capitol and tell them to stop," Kelly said of Trump to ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl during a phone call as the insurrection was taking place.

According to Karl's new book, "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show," Kelly said the Jan. 6 riot was so serious, and the then-president's handling of the crisis was so indefensible, that the cabinet would've been justified in trying to remove Trump from office.

"If I was still there, I would call the cabinet and start talking about the Twenty-Fifth Amendment," Kelly told Karl. (Then-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also reportedly broached the subject with other cabinet members about this in January.)

What strikes me as notable about this is that Kelly got to know Trump very well. The retired general first joined the then-president's cabinet as the Homeland Security secretary, and then ran Trump's White House for a year and a half — longer than any other of Trump's chiefs of staff. If anyone got a first-hand look at how Trump works, thinks, acts, and processes information, it's Kelly.

And Kelly concluded that Trump is not a "real man" — but he was a man who should've been removed from office before the end of his tenure.

It took a while for Kelly to reach this point, though he'd taken some prior steps in this direction. Last year, for example, former Defense Secretary James Mattis, wrote a rather extraordinary rebuke of Trump, condemning the then-president for being divisive, immature, and cavalier about abusing his powers. Soon after, Kelly publicly endorsed Mattis' criticisms.

Kelly added at the time, "I think we need to look harder at who we elect. I think we should look at people that are running for office and put them through the filter: What is their character like? What are their ethics?"

By January, Kelly saw far less need for subtlety, accusing Trump of "poisoning" people's minds. Kelly added that Trump is "a very, very flawed man ... who has got some serious character issues."

It says a lot about the former president that the man who served at his side seems to hold him in barely contained contempt.