John Kelly has confirmed that, during his presidency, Donald Trump privately denigrated U.S. service members and veterans.

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According to a 2020 report in The Atlantic, Trump referred to fallen soldiers as “suckers” and “losers.” Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is strongly criticizing his former boss for making derogatory remarks about service members and veterans, as well as for his dishonesty about his stances on various groups and abortion.

In a statement provided to CNN and published on Monday, Kelly harshly criticized former President Donald Trump while corroborating the reporting by The Atlantic in 2020, which detailed the comments Trump made during his time in office.

Kelly stated, “A person who believes that those who defend their country in uniform, those who are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or those who endure years of torture as prisoners of war are all ‘suckers’ because ‘there is nothing in it for them.'” He continued, “A person who avoided being seen with military amputees because ‘it doesn’t look good for me.’ A person who openly displayed contempt for a Gold Star family, as well as all Gold Star families, during the 2016 campaign, and who ranted that our most precious heroes who sacrificed their lives in defense of America are ‘losers’ and refused to visit their graves in France.”

The Atlantic had reported that Trump made disparaging comments in private about U.S. service members and veterans, including the late Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam POW, and former President George H.W. Bush, a Navy pilot shot down in World War II. During a 2018 visit to France to commemorate the centennial anniversary of World War I’s end, Trump reportedly referred to Marines who died at Belleau Wood as “suckers” and labeled fallen soldiers at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery as “losers.”

Kelly also criticized Trump for being “untruthful regarding his position on the protection of unborn life, women, minorities, evangelical Christians, Jews, and working men and women.” He described Trump as someone who lacks an understanding of what America stands for and represents. Kelly further commented on Trump’s cavalier suggestion that a dedicated warrior who served the country for 40 years should face execution for treason, likely referring to recent remarks about Army Gen. Mark Milley, who recently retired as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Kelly also accused Trump of admiring autocrats and oppressive dictators, while having contempt for democratic institutions, the Constitution, and the rule of law.

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

In response, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung stated, “John Kelly has completely discredited himself with these debunked stories he has concocted because he did not serve his President well while working as Chief of Staff.”

John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, left his role as Trump’s chief of staff in 2018. His tenure was marked by conflict, with reports of disagreements between Kelly, Trump, and West Wing staff. Kelly faced backlash from Trump in 2020 when he defended then-Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who had raised concerns about Trump’s July 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, leading to Trump’s first impeachment. During his time in the Trump White House, Kelly was rumored to be weary and frustrated with his role and Trump’s unpredictable demeanor.

Kelly initially served in the Trump administration as the Secretary of Homeland Security before being appointed as Chief of Staff in July 2017, following the ousting of his predecessor, Reince Priebus, after just six months in the position.

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