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Trump “Not Up To Role Of President” : John Kelly Gives Dramatic Exit Interview

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Originally appeared at ZeroHedge

Update: Shortly after the LA Times published its article, the New York Times published a similar piece – recapping the LA Times story while adding:

Mr. Kelly is leaving after a 17-month tenure that he described to the paper as a “bone-crushing hard job.” Mr. Kelly was known to tell aides that he had the “worst job in the world,” and frequently told people that Mr. Trump was not up to role of president, according to two former administration officials. NYT

Earlier:

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will be leaving the Trump administration on Wednesday after 18 months on the job wrangling President Trump and keeping the West Wing in order.

Trump "Not Up To Role Of President" : John Kelly Gives Dramatic Exit Interview

In an exclusive two-hour interview with the LA Times, Kelly offers a peek behind the curtain as he presided over some of the Trump administration’s most controversial immigration and geopolitical policies.

“When I first took over, he was inclined to want to withdraw from Afghanistan,” Kelly recalled. “He was frustrated. It was a huge decision to make … and frankly there was no system at all for a lot of reasons — palace intrigue and the rest of it — when I got there.”

Trump, who campaigned on non-interventionism and reducing troop counts wherever possible, announced the pullout of all US troops from Syria, and half of the 14,000 troops in Afghanistan – after Kelly’s departure was confirmed December 8 – moves that Kelly opposed as Chief of Staff.

Kelly’s supporters, meanwhile, have suggested that he was the only thing stopping Trump from making several ill-advised choices, such as not pulling US forces out of South Korea, and not withdrawing from NATO as Trump has threatened.

That said, the outgoing Chief of Staff maintains that President Trump had access to multiple streams of detailed information before major decisions were made – despite Trump’s reputation for relying on his gut instinct.

“It’s never been: The president just wants to make a decision based on no knowledge and ignorance,” said Kelly. “You may not like his decision, but at least he was fully informed on the impact.”

Bone crushing

Kelly tells the Times that it was a “bone-crushing hard job” to have spent nearly every waking minute of 15-hour days with the President, “but you do it,” he added.

On most days, he said, he woke up at 4 a.m. and typically came home at 9 p.m. Then he often went straight into a secure area for classified reports and communications so he could keep working.

I’m guarded by the Secret Service. I can’t even go get a beer,” he quipped. –LA Times

Kelly also noted that while Trump pushed back on his advisors to test the limits of his authority under the law – often asking Kelly “Why can’t we do it this way?” – that Trump never ordered him to do anything illegal “because we wouldn’t have.”

“If he had said to me, ‘Do it, or you’re fired,” Kelly said, he would have resigned.

According to Kelly, Trump brought him in to bring structure and order to a chaotic White House racked with inter-agency rivalry, remarkably high staff turnover and nearly constant controversy – adding that he tried to remove politics from his decision-making.

“I told the president the last thing in my view that you need in the chief of staff is someone that looks at every issue through a political lens,” Kelly said.

Kelly served 46 years in the Marines, from the Vietnam War to the rise of Islamic State, making him the U.S. military’s longest-serving general when he retired in January 2016.

When Trump picked him to head Homeland Security, and then serve as White House chief of staff, officials from the Pentagon to Capitol Hill expressed hope that Kelly would be one of the “adults in the room” to manage a mercurial president.

To critics, Kelly failed at that task, unable to rein in Trump’s angry tweets or bring order to executive decision-making.

Worse, they argue, he aggressively advocated and implemented harsh immigration measures, including separating migrant children from their parents on the border last summer, that quickly ran aground or were reversed in the courts. –LA Times

Kelly brushed off reports that Trump was put off by Kelly’s iron grip on White House operations or the endless briefings, however his “anticlimactic exit,” as the Times puts it, “reflects a tenure dogged from the outset by the indignities of constant speculation, fueled by the president’s own public remarks, that he would be fired.”

Kelly said that the decision to leave was solidified after the November 6 midterm election, in which Republicans lost control of the House. Two days later, Trump announced Kelly’s departure.

“John Kelly will be leaving, I don’t know if I can say retiring,” Trump said from the South Lawn of the White House before departing for the annual Army-Navy football game. “But he’s a great guy.”

Unlike Kelly’s friend James N. Mattis, the retired Marine general who resigned as secretary of Defense with a public letter rebuking the president for abandoning allies and undermining alliances, Kelly kept his counsel.

But his impending departure from the eye of the storm created an embarrassing void at the White House as one candidate after another publicly pulled out or declined the chief of staff job. –LA Times

The departure of Kelly has many in Washington worried that nobody will be watching Trump – mostly among Democrats.

“Now, it just seems to be a free-for-all,” said Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI). “There’s no real consistent figure that’s going to stand there and just make sure literally the trains run on time. I think that was one of Kelly’s major contributions.”

“It’s a loss, there’s no question,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Kelly leaves amid a stalemate over $5 billion in funding for Trump’s US-Mexico border wall, which has resulted in a government shutdown now entering week two. Trump has blamed Democrats, who have refused to provide more than $1.3 billion for border security.

“To be honest, it’s not a wall,” said Kelly – who embarked in early 2017 on seeking advice from those who “actually secure the border,” on what to do. Speaking with Customs and Border Protection agents – referred to by Kelly as “salt-of-the-earth, Joe-Six-Pack folks,” the outgoing Chief of Staff recounts “They said, ‘Well we need a physical barrier in certain places, we need technology across the board, and we need more people’.”

“The president still says ‘wall’ — oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats. But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it.

When pressed by the Times over whether there is a security crisis at the Southern border, or if Trump has simply stirred up fears of a migrant “invasion,” Kelly said “We do have an immigrant problem.”

From the 1980s to the mid-2000s, apprehensions at the border — the most common measure of illegal immigration — routinely reached more than 1 million migrants a year.

Today, they are near historical lows. In the fiscal year that ended in September, border authorities apprehended 521,090 people.

But immigration officials are seeing a dramatic rise in families and unaccompanied minors at the border, mostly from Central America.

Kelly saw the corruption and violence that spurred migrations from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, first as head of the Pentagon’s Southern Command, which stretches from South America to Mexico’s southern border, then at Homeland Security.

He says that experience has given him a nuanced view on immigration and border security — one that at times appears at odds with Trump’s harsh anti-immigration messaging and policy.

“Illegal immigrants, overwhelmingly, are not bad people,” Kelly said, describing many migrants as victims misled by traffickers. “I have nothing but compassion for them, the young kids.” –LA Times

Kelly laid blame on immigrants and lawmakers, and not the Trump administration, for the tense situation at the border in which thousands of Central Americans remain stranded at the southern US border waiting for asylum claims to be processed at a snail’s pace of less than 100 per day.

“One of the reasons why it’s so difficult to keep people from coming — obviously it’d be preferable for them to stay in their own homeland but it’s difficult to do sometimes, where they live — is a crazy, oftentimes conflicting series of loopholes in the law in the United States that makes it extremely hard to turn people around and send them home,” said Kelly. “If we don’t fix the laws, then they will keep coming,” he continued. “They have known, and they do know, that if they can get here, they can, generally speaking, stay.”

Kelly’s advice to stop illegal immigration”? “stop U.S. demand for drugs, and expand economic opportunity” in Central America, he said.

Kelly dinged the Trump administration for failing to appropriately predict the public outrage stemming from Steve Bannon’s “travel ban” in January 2017, as well as the “zero tolerance” immigration policy and resultant spike in family separations this year.

Shortly after taking office, Trump issued an executive order immediately suspending the entire U.S. refugee program for 120 days, indefinitely freezing the entry of refugees from Syria and barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Refugees already approved for resettlement, green card holders and others were turned away from flights, detained, and in some cases deported. Federal judges issued emergency stays, and several iterations of the travel ban have been challenged in court.

At the time, despite reports he’d been caught off-guard by the president’s order, Kelly gave a full-throated defense.

I had very little opportunity to look at them,” before the orders were announced, Kelly acknowledged in the Times interview. “Obviously, it brought down a greater deal of thunder on the president.

Blain Rethmeier, who helped shepherd Kelly and his replacement at Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, through their Senate confirmations, put it more colorfully: “He got handed a [crap] sandwich the first week on the job.” –LA Times

“There’s only so many things a chief of staff can do, particularly with a personality like Donald Trump,” said former Kelly colleague David Lapan of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

In May, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a zero-tolerance immigration policy which resulted in the high-profile separation of migrant children from their parents – a practice conducted under the Obama Administration (which the ACLU even sued them over). Kelly said Sessions’ announcement surprised the White House.

“What happened was Jeff Sessions, he was the one that instituted the zero-tolerance process on the border that resulted in both people being detained and the family separation,” said Kelly. “He surprised us.”

The task of implementing the policy fell on the shoulders of Kelly’s replacement at the Department of Homeland Security, Kristjen Nielsen, who came under fire for claiming that there was no official policy of separating families.

Trump "Not Up To Role Of President" : John Kelly Gives Dramatic Exit Interview

“She is a good soldier; she took the face shot,” said an anonymous Senior White House official to the Times. “No one asked her to do it, but by the time we could put together a better strategy, she’d already owned it.”

When asked why he stuck it out for 18 months in the chaotic Trump White House, “despite policy differences, personality clashes, the punishing schedule and a likely lasting association with some of Trump’s controversies,” Kelly said it was a matter of duty.

“Military people,” said Kelly “don’t walk away.”

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You can call me Al

“Kelly saw the corruption and violence that spurred migrations from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, first as head of the Pentagon’s Southern Command, which stretches from South America to Mexico’s southern border, then at Homeland Security.”

Kelly also undertook in the violence is El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala; if not him, some other globalisation believer that happens to be a Yank, with his full knowledge and blessing.

El Salvador – https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/trump-and-el-salvador/550955/

Honduras – https://theconversation.com/how-us-policy-in-honduras-set-the-stage-for-todays-migration-65935

Guatemala – https://thepanoptic.co.uk/2016/11/19/american-intervention-guatemala/

Almost everywhere there is trouble or war, you will find the hand of the US bastards.

…………………………………..

may you all have a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Brother Ma

They have the Anti -Midas touch. Everything Americants touch turns to siht!

FlorianGeyer

Bingo :)

I also struggle to find any positive outcomes for the US people and the nations the US has interfered with , more often than not, with bombs and bullets.

Less US warfare is one of Trumps better ideas but he needs to understand that arms sales to his proxies who start aggressive wars that profit the very few, is also not a sustainable business model.

Dušan Mirić

Why? He’s not a “good boy”?

Rob

It is obvious that majority of pro Israeli childbutchers will leave the Trump administration.

StraitlacedMissouri

Thankfully…

Tommy Jensen

The biggest problem the world has today is US wall to Mexico.

Is the wall going to be in concrete, steel, bricks, a barbed fence, a dead buffer zone or electrical kill wire, or should we welcome refugees into our houses and let them take what they want?

The democrats are 100% against the wall because it will hurt their profit schemes badly;
less refugees, less social programmes, less destroyed families, less children with problems, less torture victims, less virus and cancer deceases, less LGBT and black community problems, less racist problems, less criminals, less murders, less prisoners, less red tape, less news about our many many problems.

All what democrats and liberals earn their money on.

If you have feelings your bet is on liberals and refugees, because you feel sorry for both. Trump and Kelly are both bad bad guys. They are Hitlers like Putin!

Your choice guys: Hitler or the Globohomoes.

FlorianGeyer

I understand that the US border will be secured by a shield.

From Wakipedia, the free encyclopedia

” Type Defensive shields
Function Protects ships, space stations, and planets from damage by hazard or enemy attack.
In the Star Trek ( non) fictional universe, shields refer to a 23rd and 24th century technology that provides starships, space stations, and entire planets with limited protection against damage ( and South American Migrants). They are sometimes referred to as deflectors, deflector shields, ”

I am told by an secret source that President Trump has already utilised the Stargate to access the US military in the 23rd Century and inspect the Starship USS Enterprise defensive capabilities. Scotty gave him the ‘Deflector Shield’ plans.
comment image

Happy New Year Tommy.
You can sleep safely in your bed now.

VeeNarian (Yerevan)

Live long and prosper for 2019 and many years beyond.

FlorianGeyer

And you as well my friend.

Tommy Jensen

Thanks, same over.
Personally I believe in the One. If he can stop Mr. Smith, there is an indefinite peace period. Because the One “choose” to stop him. We all have to make a choice.

skinner15

How did you fit Putin in to all that!

And why?

FlorianGeyer

Because without Putin the US is rudderless :)

skinner15

True, they have to have a reason for spending a trillion a year on corporate welfare.

VeeNarian (Yerevan)

Putin for POTUS, after 2024!!! Then the US may have a chance! Otherwise, they better start learning Russian now, because the Russians control everything in the world. You can’t sneeze or excrete without their permission.

Tommy Jensen

Its all about Putin. He is the second coming…..after the Mexican wall.

skinner15

You sound like John McCain, or as Putin once compared John with, Senator Cato the Senior from ancient Rome.

Carthage, Putin, the message is the same. The Imperialists desire for conquest is undiminished.

John Whitehot

“adults in the room”

you know you’re an adult when you start whoring with the establishments.

paul ( original )

The reason given for US involvement in Syria was to combat ISIS. That may
not have been the real reason but it what they said. Now that ISIS is
reduced to a much diminished state the adult decision is to withdraw.
The alternative is to say just for the sake of staying. Trump has
show a lot more good sense that I expected. I hope he follows through
with his announcement. I am not sure he will but it certainly a plus
in my assessment. If he succeeds with the wall then that would mean
he had fulfilled all the hopes I initially had. This is yet to
happen but things do look finely balanced.

James

It looks like the US are withdrawing the main forces but leaving SF to guard the existing bases. It’s always sleight-of-hand with the US.

paul ( original )

I did not expect any more than this.. It is not that I support or have faith in any politician, its just that I can recognize when they take even a small step, even unwittingly, in a ‘good’ direction.

FB

Kelly says ‘Trump not up to role of president…’

Next time when he goes to vote he can vote for somebody else…in the meantime, this MIC whore needs to understand that the American people ELECTED Trump POTUS…not Kelly…

Sinbad2

Did the American people vote for Trump, or against Clinton?

VeeNarian (Yerevan)

It does not matter. Trump got the votes in the right states to win the electoral college. He would not be President in any other country that votes.

skinner15

He won the game by playing within the rules.

That’s why they can’t impeach him. They are making a mockery of their own rules such is their outrage that they couldn’t get their Hilary in, evil, twisted ogre that she is.

VeeNarian (Yerevan)

And which war did you win, Kelly boy? Greneda? Ferguson? Perhaps against the penguins of Antarctica???

StraitlacedMissouri

???

verner

he would, wouldn’t he, considering his military background and thus a defender of the interests of the miltaryindustrialcomplex/the deep state since, after all it’s that interest that has made him rich so when trump sets out to end/reduce american wars, that is directly contrary to kelly’s interests/instructions so the attempts to destroy trump finds another proponent – nothing else. and his view are disqualified for that very same reason and should be disregarded.

aliter, puto israelis et destrui (free after Cato the elder)

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