Former White House chief of staff John Kelly said on Friday that he warned President Trump ahead of his resignation that impeachment was all but guaranteed without the guidance of advisers who resist his impulses.
“I said whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man,’ someone who won’t tell you the truth — don’t do that,” Kelly said during an interview at the Sea Island Summit, a conference hosted by the Washington Examiner. “Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached.”
“That was almost 11 months ago, and I have an awful lot of, to say the least, second thoughts about leaving,” Kelly continued. “It pains me to see what’s going on because I believe if I was still there or someone like me was there, he would not be kind of, all over the place.”
Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, served as Trump’s chief of staff from July 2017 to January 2019. In the later months of his tenure Trump openly questioned his job performance.
“Certain things I love that he does, and there are certain things I don’t love,” Trump said in a November 2018 interview on Fox News Sunday. “He’s doing an excellent job in many ways. There are a couple of things where it’s just not his strength.”
Kelly was replaced by current acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
“The system that should be in place, clearly — the system of advising, bringing in experts in, having these discussions with the president so he can make an informed decision, that clearly is not in place. And I feel bad that I left,” Kelly said in his Friday interview.
Mulvaney found himself in hot water earlier this month after admitting the Trump administration withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure the country to investigate interference in the 2016 presidential election. He walked back his comments the next day, stating that “there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election.”
Trump is currently the subject of an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats into whether he withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure Ukrainian officials to look into corruption allegations against political rival Joe Biden.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have been privately complaining about Mulvaney’s response to the impeachment inquiry, according to the Washington Post. Mulvaney’s seeming inability to restrain the president or build a targeted messaging campaign against impeachment have rattled Republicans, who, the Post writes, are actively contemplating replacements for the embattled chief of staff.