John Kelly Turns Heads With Surprise Exit Interview

The outgoing chief of staff has something to say
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2018 12:02 PM CST
In this Nov. 16, 2018, file photo, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly watches as President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – "To be honest, it's not a wall." That's John Kelly in an LA Times exit interview about immigration policy, Afghanistan, the legality of President Trump's orders—and whether Kelly was allowed to "go get a beer" during his "bone-crushing hard job" as chief of staff. "The president still says 'wall'—oftentimes frankly he'll say 'barrier' or 'fencing,' now he's tended toward steel slats," per Kelly. "But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it." Kelly says that jibes with what heard in early 2017 from "salt-of-the-earth, Joe-Six-Pack folks" who work as border agents: "They said, 'Well we need a physical barrier in certain places, we need technology across the board, and we need more people.'" For more:

  • Afghanistan: "When I first took over, he was inclined to want to withdraw from Afghanistan," Kelly recalls of Trump. "He was frustrated. It was a huge decision to make ... and frankly there was no system at all for a lot of reasons—palace intrigue and the rest of it—when I got there."

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