Former White House chief of staff John Kelly threw his support behind fellow Trump administration alum Jim Mattis as he takes heat from the President for decrying the President’s “abuse of executive authority” in a scathing statement.
Shortly after Mattis’ statement criticizing the President’s use of militaristic force ahead his surprise photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church was published Wednesday evening, Trump tweeted that “probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General.”
Kelly pushed back at Trump’s claim that he fired Mattis in an interview with the Washington Post on Thursday.
“The President did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation,” Kelly told the Post. “The President has clearly forgotten how it actually happened or is confused.”
Kelly noted that the President posted a “very positive tweet” about Mattis — referring to his tweet in December 2018 saying that Mattis will retire “with distinction” — but that the sentiment lasted until he “got nasty” upon seeing Fox News’ “interpretation” of his resignation letter.
Mattis submitted his resignation letter in December, 2018, a day after Trump’s plans to withdraw troops from Syria were publicly released. In his letter, Mattis wrote that it was right to step down from his position because the President has “the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned” with his.