It’s Thursday, February 13. In today’s newsletter: John Kelly speaks his mind about Trump. Plus: Which U.S. presidents were the best writers?
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(EVAN VUCCI / AP)
The retired four-star general, former White House chief of staff, and former secretary of homeland security let loose about his old boss during a speech at Drew University in New Jersey. Kelly called out the president’s retaliation against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, criticized Trump’s strategy on North Korea, questioned the president’s language about migrant families, and defended the press.
My colleague Peter Nicholas, our White House reporter, was in the room for the remarkable comments:
When Vindman heard the president tell Zelensky he wanted to see the Biden family investigated, that was tantamount to hearing “an illegal order,” Kelly said. “We teach them, ‘Don’t follow an illegal order. And if you’re ever given one, you’ll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss.’”
Throughout the appearance, Kelly laid out his doubts about Trump’s policies. Trump has held two formal summits with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, hoping to scuttle the country’s nuclear program through personal diplomacy. Kelly said the effort was futile.
Kelly kept quiet for much of his tenure in the Trump administration, speaking more freely after he put some distance between him and the White House. But the criticism may be too little, too late, Peter writes, this latest unburdening convincing no Americans of anything new.