The way former White House chief of staff John Kelly sees it: either Donald Trump is lying about how James Mattis left his administration, or the president’s recollection is sadly mistaken.
Mattis drew considerable attention on Wednesday when he blasted Trump’s conduct throughout the unrest over George Floyd’s death, and he also said the president has used his time in office to perpetuate a “deliberate effort” to divide the country. Trump returned fire on his former defense secretary by getting on Twitter, calling Mattis “the world’s most overrated general,” and saying he was “glad [Mattis] is gone.”
Trump also claimed to have fired Mattis even though he left the White House of his own accord, not because the president ordered him out. Washington Post asked Kelly for his thoughts about the emerging dispute, and the former White House chief of staff defended Mattis from Trump’s attack.
“The president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation,” said Kelly. “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.”