The President Is Confused: John Kelly Hits Trump With Fact-Check

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly spoke up Thursday to correct the record on a recent Trump claim. President Donald Trump claimed in a tweet that he asked Jim Mattis, who was then the U.S. Secretary of Defense, for a letter of resignation, and was pleased that Mattis complied. Kelly says it’s not true. He defended Mattis as an honorable man who Trump “got nasty” towards, and said the president was confused.

Trump is confused about Mattis, says Kelly
[Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images]

According to The Atlantic, Mattis got on the wrong side of Trump by calling him out for treatment of protestors. He said, “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.”

He said the U.S. has been three years without mature leadership, and is suffering the consequences, and that calling for military response to protestors is inappropriate.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a ‘battlespace’ that our uniformed military is called upon to ‘dominate.’ At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

Trump responded on Twitter, saying that Mattis is overrated and that he’s glad to have him off the staff, that he gave Mattis the nickname “Mad Dog” (of which the general has expressed open dislike) — and he claimed to have asked Mattis to resign.

Military Times fact-checked the “Mad Dog” claim last year, noting that the nickname was tagged onto General Mattis at least as far back as 2004, and that Mattis has previously discussed the press assigning him that moniker, which he also finds inaccurate.

As for Mattis’ letter of resignation, according to Washington Post, John Kelly couldn’t let that story stand. In an interview, he said that it was untrue. Mattis tendered his resignation over Trump’s decisions regarding military presence in Syria, and Kelly described it this way:

The president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation. The president has clearly forgotten how it actually happened or is confused. The president tweeted a very positive tweet about Jim until he started to see on Fox News their interpretation of his letter. Then he got nasty. Jim Mattis is a honorable man.

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