scorecardJohn Kelly confirms firsthand Trump's statements expressing distaste for military service after years of anonymous accounts
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John Kelly confirms firsthand Trump's statements expressing distaste for military service after years of anonymous accounts

Hannah Getahun   

John Kelly confirms firsthand Trump's statements expressing distaste for military service after years of anonymous accounts
PoliticsPolitics2 min read
  • Former chief of staff John Kelly confirmed that he witnessed firsthand Trump's comments about military service.
  • For years, anonymous former staffers have come forward to speak about Trump comments.

Retired US Marine Corps general John Kelly, who served for 17 months as chief of staff for Donald Trump, said that the former president called veterans "suckers" because "there's nothing in it from them," confirming years of anonymous accounts detailing Trump's comments about the military.

"What can I add that has not already been said?" Kelly told CNN, referring to Trump, "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.'"

Kelly continued: "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."

Up until Monday, Kelly did not comment on Trump's alleged statements, which were first detailed by The Atlantic in 2020. Per the Atlantic's reporting, the former president joined Kelly to visit his late son Robert Kelly's grave in 2017 and asked "I don't get it. What was in it for them?"

Later, during a 2018 visit to France, Trump called marines who died during WW1 "suckers" and declined to visit their graves, unnamed sources told the publication at the time.

Per the Atlantic report, Trump staff witnessed the president ask to exclude wounded veterans from a military parade because "Nobody wants to see that." The book "The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021," by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser later corroborated that anecdote and also revealed that Kelly was present for that conversation.

"Those are the heroes," Kelly said at the time, according to the book.

Per CNN, the Trump campaign responded to the statement by insulting former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley.

Insider reached out to Trump's campaign for comment.

Trump's comments about the military over the years have contradicted each other. The former president has publicly and positively spoken about US forces.

However, he also has a history of insulting the military, including repeatedly disparaging the late Sen. John McCain by declaring that he is not a "war hero" because he was a prisoner of war while he served in Vietnam.

Trump, himself, notably evaded the Vietnam War draft five times.

Kelly has become increasingly outspoken about Trump since his departure from the White House in 2019. In his latest statement to CNN, Kelly also criticized Trump, saying that he had "contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law."

"There is nothing more that can be said," Kelly said. "God help us."




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