WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's former chief of staff, John Kelly, says he advised the president not to fill the job with someone who wouldn't be honest with him and provide a check on his impulses because he would end up being impeached.
"That was almost 11 months ago, and I have an awful lot of, to say the least, second thoughts about leaving," Kelly told the Washington Examiner. "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."
"I said, whatever you do — and we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place — I said whatever you do, don't hire a 'yes man,' someone who won't tell you the truth — don't do that. Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached," Kelly recalled in an interview at the Sea Island Summit, a political conference hosted by the Examiner. Kelly said he does not believe the president would be in his current predicament if he had stayed as chief of staff.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement of her own Saturday: "I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President."
Trump pushed back on Kelly's comments in a statement: "John Kelly never said that, he never said anything like that. If he would have said that, I would have thrown him out of the office. He just wants to come back into the action like everybody else does."
The House is expected to vote on articles of impeachment by Christmas, with a trial to follow in the Senate to determine whether Trump should be removed from office.
The proceedings were sparked by allegations that the president asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival seeking the Democratic nomination and into the 2016 election.