Former President Donald Trump dismissed his ex-Chief of Staff John Kelly‘s criticism as “lies” and “fake stories” a day after the former White House official went on the record with CNN, reiterating accounts of Trump’s belittling of U.S. troops.
In an exclusive statement published by CNN on Tuesday, Kelly, the longest-serving White House chief of staff under Trump, from 2017 to 2019, reiterated several statements Trump reportedly made behind closed doors attacking U.S. service members and veterans, many of which appeared in a 2020 story by The Atlantic.
Among Trump’s statements shared by Kelly included instances where the former president reportedly called service members “losers” and “suckers” because “there is nothing in it for them.” The former chief of staff also accused Trump of not wanting to have wounded veterans in his presence because “it doesn’t look good for me,” and for not being “truthful” about his position on abortion, “on women, on minorities, on evangelical Christians, on Jews, on working men and women.”
In a post to Truth Social Wednesday, Trump called Kelly, “the dumbest of my Military people,” adding that Kelly was “incapable of doing a good job, it was too much for him, and I couldn’t stand the guy, so I fired him like a ‘dog.'”
“He had no heart or respect for people, so I hit him hard—Made no difference to me,” Trump continued. “He’s already on record defending me all over the place. Nobody loves the Military like I do!”
“He’s a Lowlife with a very small brain and a very big mouth,” the former president added. “Numerous people are angry and upset because they know they will never be in a new Trump Administration, but only for one reason, they’re not nearly good enough. Kelly would be among those at the top of the list!”
Kelly, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general, told CNN that Trump had “no idea what America stands for” and that he “admires autocrats and murderous dictators.” He also accused Trump of having “nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution and the rule of law.”
“There is nothing more that can be said,” Kelly concluded in his statement. “God help us.”
In a previous report from The Atlantic, several sources close to Trump shared stories of the former president canceling a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris, France, in 2018, telling his staff, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.”
In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump also reportedly referred to the over 1,800 Marines who were killed in the 1918 Belleau Wood battle as “suckers.”
Newsweek reached out to Trump’s press team via email for additional comment Wednesday night.
Trump has a habit of attacking his critics over social media, including a recent dig at a New York law clerk that earned him a gag order in the civil fraud lawsuit filed against him by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Special Counsel Jack Smith has also requested that a gag order be placed on Trump’s public speech in the federal case accusing the former president of illegally attempting to remain in power after losing to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Last week, Trump went on a rant about retired U.S. Army General Mark Milley, who seemed to refer to Trump as a “wannabe dictator” during his retirement speech. The former president, who has suggested that Milley would be executed for “treason” in “times gone by,” shot back at the former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, calling him “slow moving” in a post to Truth Social.