John Kelly Confirms Trump Remarks on Veterans

Former WH chief of staff says ex-boss 'has no idea what America is all about'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2023 11:35 AM CDT
John Kelly Confirms Trump Remarks on Veterans
In this June 21, 2018, file photo, then-White House chief of staff John Kelly listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a lunch with governors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

John Kelly, who served as chief of staff to former President Donald Trump, went on the record Monday to confirm "a number of damning stories" about Trump in a statement to CNN. And what a statement it is. Kelly described Trump as "a person who is not truthful regarding his position on the protection of unborn life, on women, on minorities, on evangelical Christians, on Jews, on working men and women" and as "a person that has no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is all about." The statement went on to confirm reports from recent years about controversial comments by Trump, particularly those made about US service members and veterans.

"What can I add that has not already been said?" began the retired US Marine Corps general, describing Trump as "a person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all 'suckers' because 'there is nothing in it for them.' A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because 'it doesn't look good for me.' A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family—for all Gold Star families—on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America's defense are 'losers' and wouldn't visit their graves in France."

Kelly—whose own son, Robert Kelly, died in combat in Afghanistan—wasn't done. "A person who cavalierly suggests that a selfless warrior who has served his country for 40 years in peacetime and war should lose his life for treason—in expectation that someone will take action," he continued. "A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law." "There is nothing more that can be said. God help us," concluded Kelly, who's thought to have been the source of reports about Trump's attitude toward the US military in recent years but hadn't previously confirmed that, per the Guardian.

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In 2020, the Atlantic cited sources as saying Trump refused to visit a US war cemetery in France in 2018, claiming it was filled with "losers"; described US Marines killed in World War I as "suckers"; and questioned the motivation of soldiers killed in combat during a 2017 event at Arlington National Cemetery. Later, in their 2022 book, Peter Baker and Susan Glasser reported that Trump told Kelly that he didn't want wounded veterans in a military parade because "it doesn't look good for me," per the Guardian. In response to Kelly's statement, a Trump campaign rep said, per CNN: "John Kelly has totally clowned himself with these debunked stories he's made up because he didn't serve his president well while working as chief of staff." (More John Kelly stories.)

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