John Kelly Exit Interview: No Wall, No Politics, but the President Was Informed

Retired United States Marine Corps general and White House Chief of Staff John F Kelly visits the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in Belleau, on November 10, 2018 as part of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN …
GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images
CHARLIE SPIERING

White House chief of staff John Kelly conducted a rare interview with the Los Angeles Times, defending his tenure as he leaves the position in January.

Kelly appeared satisfied that during his tenure, he made sure that the president was informed on every issue.

“It’s never been: The president just wants to make a decision based on no knowledge and ignorance,” Kelly said. “You may not like his decision, but at least he was fully informed on the impact.”

Kelly also confirmed the president’s willingness to compromise on his long-promised wall on the Southern border.

“The president still says ‘wall’ — oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats,” Kelly said. “But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it.”

The former general described his position as a “bone-crushing hard job” where he woke up at 4:00 a.m. and ended up home at 9:00 p.m. where he continued working.

He also took pride that he kept politics out of the decision-making process at the White House, an issue that Trump’s allies repeatedly expressed frustration about the new chief of staff.

“I told the president the last thing in my view that you need in the chief of staff is someone that looks at every issue through a political lens,” Kelly said.

Kelly expressed frustration with Congress for failing to close the loopholes that kept Central American migrants and minors taking the dangerous journey to the United States to claim asylum.

“If we don’t fix the laws, then they will keep coming,” he continued. “They have known, and they do know, that if they can get here, they can, generally speaking, stay.”

General Kelly served in the Marines for 46 years before retiring, and then served as Trump’s Department of Homeland Security Secretary and then-White House chief of staff.

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