Since Donald Trump’s departure from the White House, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, who served as the Republican president’s chief of staff for 17 months, has not held back his disdain for his former boss. Over the past couple of years, Kelly has accused Trump of various wrongdoings, including “poisoning” people’s minds, exhibiting “serious character issues,” and lacking qualities of “a real man.”
However, beyond Kelly’s assessment of Trump’s character, it is the concerns he has raised about Trump’s abuses during his time in office that hold even greater significance. Last fall, Kelly revealed to The New York Times that Trump, as president, instructed his chief of staff to utilize the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department to target his critics and perceived political adversaries.
The Times’ report highlighted that Kelly had firmly communicated to Trump the serious legal and ethical issues associated with his demands. Nevertheless, the former president persisted in making such demands, prompting Kelly to remind him that what he desired was not only potentially illegal and immoral but could also have negative repercussions for himself.
Despite the importance of these allegations, they were overshadowed by a series of other scandals involving Trump. However, I found Kelly’s revelations to be incredibly significant. Amidst Republican claims about the Biden White House “weaponizing” and “politicizing” federal law enforcement, which appear to lack factual basis, here was Trump’s longest-serving chief of staff affirming on the record that Trump engaged in the exact abuse that he falsely accused his successor of committing. Recently, these allegations have resurfaced and gained renewed attention for valid reasons. The New York Times reported over the weekend that:
John F. Kelly, who served as former President Donald J. Trump’s second White House chief of staff, said in a sworn statement that Mr. Trump had discussed having the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies investigate two F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia. Mr. Kelly said that his recollection of Mr. Trump’s comments to him was based on notes that he had taken at the time in 2018. Mr. Kelly provided copies of his notes to lawyers for one of the F.B.I. officials, who made the sworn statement public in a court filing.
“The court filing relates to a civil case we discussed late last week: Peter Strzok, a former senior FBI official who helped lead the initial probe of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, is currently suing the bureau, arguing that he was wrongfully terminated. As part of the case, Strzok and his lawyers intend to depose the former president, asking whether the Republican was involved in his firing.” These developments bring the spotlight back to the allegations, underscoring their significance and the need for further scrutiny.