“When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn’t do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head,” the president tweeted. “Being Chief of Staff just wasn’t for him. He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper, but like so many X’s, he misses the action & just can’t keep his mouth shut, which he actually has a military and legal obligation to do.”
Kelly criticized Trump on Wednesday for matters beyond the smears targeting Vindman. He denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin (whom Trump has praised), characterized the president’s peace negotiations with North Korea as “futile” and said the media is not “the enemy of the people” (a frequent claim of his former boss). Kelly also defended migrants, a group whom Trump first maligned when he announced his presidential campaign in 2015.
“They’re overwhelmingly good people . . . They’re not all rapists and they’re not all murderers,” Kelly said. “And it’s wrong to characterize them that way.”
This is not the first time Kelly has criticized Trump since leaving the White House. He defended John Bolton last month after it was revealed that the former national security adviser wrote in a manuscript of his upcoming book that the president withheld military aid appropriated by Congress to Ukraine as he sought investigations into his political rivals.
“If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton,” Kelly told an audience in Sarasota, Fla. He later added that when it came to the question of Bolton’s credibility, “every single time I was with him . . . he always gave the president the unvarnished truth.