- John Kelly, who served as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff from July 2017 to January 2019, called for the president’s removal via the 25th Amendment on Thursday.
- “What happened on Capitol Hill yesterday is a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the fraud,” Kelly told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
- When Tapper asked if Kelly would vote to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment if he were still chief of staff, he replied “Yes, I would.”
- “When you first meet or start working with him — in my case, no idea of the flaws — and you start working for him and begin to understand how flawed he is, then it’s a matter of staying in the job as long as you can to prevent some sort of disaster.”
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President Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff, John Kelly, said Thursday that he would vote to remove the president from office if he were still a member of his Cabinet.
Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper Thursday afternoon, Kelly said that he thinks “the Cabinet should meet and have a discussion” about invoking the 25th amendment “because the behavior yesterday and the weeks and months before that have just been outrageous from the president.”
“What happened on Capitol Hill yesterday is a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the fraud,” Kelly said.
The retired Marine Corps general and former White House chief of staff was referring to the president’s baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election and the crowd of pro-Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol Wednesday to challenge the election results.
Asked by CNN if he would vote to remove the president from office were he still part of Trump’s Cabinet, Kelly said, “Yes, I would.”
“The one thing we have going for us,” he continued, “is that it’s only 13 more days, and no one, as indicated yesterday by our vice president, no one around him anymore is going to break the law. He can give all the orders he wants.”
—Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) January 7, 2021
There are no indications yet that Vice President Mike Pence will move to trigger the 25th Amendment despite calls from some staffers who have relayed discussions to reporters of possibly using the mechanism. This comes amid significant fraying in Trump and Pence’s relationship, with Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma going on record to say “I’ve never seen Pence as angry as he was” on the day of the Capitol siege.
In Kelly’s interview with Tapper, he said he arrived at the White House without an understanding of President Trump’s behavioral and character “flaws” despite copious coverage of his comportment during the campaign and upon taking office.
“It’s impossible to understand who he actually is, but when you work closely with him, you understand he’s a very flawed human being,” Kelly said.
When Tapper asked why Kelly stayed in the job or even worked for Trump in the first place, Kelly offered a utilitarian explanation.
“When you first meet or start working with him — in my case, no idea of the flaws — and you start working for him and begin to understand how flawed he is, then it’s a matter of staying in the job as long as you can to prevent some sort of disaster.”
Kelly became Trump’s White House chief of staff in July 2017 following the departure of Reince Preibus. By late 2018, Trump and Kelly’s relationship had deteriorated, and in December, Trump announced that Kelly would step down before the end of the year.
“I watched today’s actions on the Hill brokenhearted. Horrified. That’s not us,” Kelly said in a statement posted online by CNN’s Jim Acosta Wednesday. “This is an attack on our democracy, our way of life, and not just by the criminals who assaulted our Congress today.”
He said that Americans need to “look infinitely harder at who we elect” to the office of the president in the future.