On Thursday, Donald Trump ripped into his longest-serving chief of staff, while claiming he was likely the one who fed the media stories about the president disparaging soldiers. Trump told the gathered press that he believed John Kelly was likely at least one of the sources for an article in The Atlantic critical of him.
The article claimed Trump often referred to those who died in combat as “suckers and losers.” One section reportedly recounted a visit POTUS made to a cemetery with his former staffer. This information apparently made the president believe his former chief of staff leaked at least some information to the journalists.
Kelly and Trump reportedly went to the gravesite of the retired general’s son, where Trump is said to have expressed his lack of understanding as to why someone would give their life for their country.
Whether or not that exchange eventually led to the staffer — who also once led the Department of Homeland Security under the current administration — to talk to the media is still an open question. However, as Trump continued to speak at his impromptu press conference, he made it clear he was convinced he knew at least one of the people who spoke to The Atlantic.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported via Twitter that one reason Trump felt as though his former chief of staff could have been a source for The Atlantic article was that the pressure of working in politics eventually got to him. Trump said his one-time staffer had “no temperament.” He added that at one point it became evident the former military man was “unable to function,” because he simply couldn’t handle the stress of the job.
The Indianapolis Star reported the president was responding to a question from a member of the press in attendance as to why Kelly hadn’t come out and corroborated Trump’s version of what happened when he canceled a visit to a memorial to American troops who died during World War I.
Rather than offering up an explanation for the other man’s silence on the situation, the commander in chief continued disparaging him.
“This man was totally exhausted. He wasn’t even able to function in the last number of months. He was not able to function,” he told reporters. “And I told him, John, you’re gonna have to go, please give me a letter of resignation. And we did that, and now he goes out and bad-mouths.”
Despite being directly called out, the former Marine Corps general has still not commented on the original story, nor on Trump’s latest allegations about him.