John Kelly confirms Trump’s ‘suckers’ remark about war dead

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly confirmed several remarks his former boss, former President Trump, reportedly made during his time in the administration, including one where Trump referred to dead U.S. service members as “suckers.”

In a statement to CNN, Kelly, the longest serving chief of staff under the Trump administration, confirmed to network anchor Jake Tapper a number of details published in a 2020 article by The Atlantic, including remarks made by Trump during an official visit to France in 2018. 

“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 told CNN in his lengthy statement about Trump. “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.”

Several senior staffers told The Atlantic at the time that Trump did not want to visit the graves of the American soldiers buried at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, saying “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” The former president also referred to the 1,800 U.S. Marines killed at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed. 

Kelly also criticized his former boss in his statement, saying that Trump was not “truthful” in his political positions and is “a person that has no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is all about.” 

“A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law,” Kelly said in his statement. 

“There is nothing more that can be said,” Kelly added. “God help us.”

Kelly is the latest former Trump staffer to criticize their former boss in recent years. 

Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide who testified before the now defunct select committee investigating the Jan 6., 2021 attacks at the Capitol, said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” last week that it’s a “make-or-break” moment for the Republican Party to take a stand against Trump. 

The Hill has reached out to the Trump campaign for comment.

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