John Kelly: judge me on what Trump didn't do while I was chief of staff




 

As Donald Trump attracted criticism for blaming the deaths of children in US custody on Democrats opposed to his demands for a border wall, outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly said he had "nothing but compassion" for migrants attempting to enter the US without documentation.

"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."

Two young Guatemalan children have died in US custody this month. Amid debate, the causes of death remain unknown.

Kelly, a retired Marines general, spoke in an interview with the Los Angeles Times conducted by phone on Friday and published on Sunday morning. He will leave the White House on Wednesday. His remarks, jarring with those of the president, echoed those of his successor as homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, who visited the border this weekend.

In a statement released around the same time on Saturday that Trump tweeted that "any deaths of children or others at the border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies", Nielsen said: "The system is clearly overwhelmed and we must work together to address this humanitarian crisis and protect vulnerable populations."

Nielsen also called on Congress to "act with urgency". That is unlikely during a standoff over funding for Trump's wall which has now led to a nine-day government shutdown.

Kelly, an immigration hardliner, also clashed with the man who is still his boss when he said: "If you want to stop illegal immigration, stop US demand for drugs, and expand economic opportunity" in Central America.

On Friday, Trump tweeted a threat to "cut off all aid" to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador for "doing nothing" about migration to the US and "taking our money".

Kelly's interview contained a number of statements likely to irk Trump, who remains at the White House during the shutdown, communicating with the outside world via his Twitter account.

The chief of staff criticised the implementation of the family separations policy at the border, which in the summer "brought down a greater deal of thunder on the president".

Of Trump's demanded wall, for which he has shut down the US government despite campaigning on a promise to make Mexico pay, Kelly said: "To be honest, it's not a wall."

"The president still says 'wall'," he said. "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."

Citing the thorny question of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Trump's urge to pull out of Nato, the Times said Kelly "defended his rocky tenure, arguing that it is best measured by what the president did not do when Kelly was at his side".

Kelly was one of the so-called "adults in the room" - many of them generals, who supposedly restrained Trump's worst impulses. Another, defense secretary Jim Mattis, will also leave on 1 January, his resignation over the withdrawal from Syria brought forward by a president piqued by the favourable media attention it gained.

Trump has chafed at media accounts of experienced aides acting to calm his wilder behaviour. In September, in his bestselling book Fear, the veteran reporter Bob Woodward wrote that Kelly called Trump an "idiot" and said working for him was like working in "Crazytown". Trump responded angrily and Kelly denied the quotes.

Telling the LA Times his was a "bone-crushing hard job", Kelly echoed recent comments by fired secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who said Trump regularly pushed the limits of his authority under law.

The paper wrote that "Trump never ordered him to do anything illegal, Kelly stressed, 'because we wouldn't have'." Kelly told the paper that "if he had said to me, 'Do it, or you're fired,'" he would have resigned.

In the end, after a succession of reports of infighting and arguments within a chaotic White House, Kelly did resign. He told the paper he decided to go after the November midterm elections, in which Republicans lost control of the House. Trump announced his departure on 8 December.

Amid near-meltdown at the White House, no permanent replacement has been named. Kelly was asked why he stayed 18 months. He said it was down to duty.

"Military people don't walk away," he said, two days before walking away.


COMMENTS

More Related News

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen delaying testimony to Congress
Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen delaying testimony to Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, will not testify before a House committee next month as scheduled, his adviser said Wednesday, depriving Democrats for now of a prime opportunity to scrutinize Trump, his links to Russia and payments to buy the silence of a

No. 3 House Democrat floats possible $5.7 billion in border funding
No. 3 House Democrat floats possible $5.7 billion in border funding

The No. 3 Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday raised the possibility of approving $5.7 billion in funding to secure the U.S. border though various means but not by building a wall. Referring to Republican President Donald Trump's demand for $5.7 billion to build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn told reporters, "We see ourselves fulfilling that request" with a "smart wall." The consideration comes as U.S. lawmakers this week seek to forge a path out of the partial government shutdown as it entered its 33rd day on Wednesday. Trump has said the $5.7 billion would be for the wall in addition to other funds for border...

Trump seeks to move ahead with big speech despite Pelosi shutdown concerns
Trump seeks to move ahead with big speech despite Pelosi shutdown concerns
  • US
  • 2019-01-22 18:12:38Z

Trump's proposal on Saturday to relax his immigration policies for young immigrants known as "Dreamers" in exchange for funding for a southern border wall did not appear to be making much headway among Democrats who control the House of Representatives. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will vote on Trump's plan this week but there were doubts it would pass there. Leaders of the House of Representatives have already rejected it.

Supreme Court allows Trump's partial military ban on transgender people in military to take effect
Supreme Court allows Trump's partial military ban on transgender people in military to take effect

The Supreme Court will allow Trump's partial ban on transgender people serving in the military to take effect while court challenges continue.

3 groups, many videos, many interpretations of DC encounter
3 groups, many videos, many interpretations of DC encounter

Dozens of white Catholic high school students visiting Washington for a rally to end abortion. At first the focus was on a short video showing one of the high school students, Nick Sandmann, wearing a red "Make America Great Again" hat and appearing to smirk while a crowd of other teens laughed

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.