Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Saturday that he warned President Trump about a possible impeachment were he to hire a "yes man," allegedly pointing fingers at Trump's current acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and other advisers.
"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," Kelly said at the Washington Examiner's Sea Island Summit political conference in Georgia. "Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached."
President Trump announced last December that Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, would leave his post at the end of 2018 following a 17-month tenure in the administration. Kelly previously served as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. It was widely rumored he was considering leaving his position as chief of staff.
“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," the retired general said Saturday, later saying that the "system" of advising the president so he can make informed decisions "clearly is not in place."
"And I feel bad that I left," Kelly added.
Trump fired back at Kelly's statements Saturday, claiming his former chief of staff "never said that, never said anything like that."
"If he would have said that I would have thrown him out of office," Trump said in a statement Saturday. "He just wants to come back into the action like everybody else does."
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Kelly "was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great president."
Kelly, 69, said Saturday: "Someone has got to be a guide that tells [the president] that you either have the authority or you don’t, or Mr. President, don’t do it. Don’t hire someone that will just nod and say, ‘That’s a great idea, Mr. President.’ Because you will be impeached."
House Democrats in September launched an impeachment probe into President Trump after an intelligence community whistleblower filed a complaint that accused Trump of "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election."
The complaint centered around a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. It alleged Trump pushed for a "quid pro quo," threatening to withhold military aid from Ukraine unless the country investigated 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden, his 49-year-old son Hunter and their business dealings in the country.
Democrats, spearheaded by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., have since issued a slew of subpoenas and requests for massive amounts of documents they say relate to the call, and Trump and others' interactions with Ukraine — including Trump's personal attorney Rudy Guiliani.
Kelly said Saturday he warned Trump "almost 11 months ago," adding that he had "second thoughts about leaving."