ABC’s chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl has released a new book called “Front Row at the Trump Show” and in it he details a first hand account of what life was like inside the Trump administration during some key moments in the early days.
One event we get a closer look at occurred during President Trump’s first year, when he threatened North Korea with “fire and fury.” Then-White House chief of staff John Kelly explained that when Trump made the comment in August 2017, he did not really understand the full implication of what he was saying.
Kelly explained in Karl’s book, “He needs to understand that 18- and 19-year-old people are going to die… This is big-boy and big-girl s—. You have to understand people will die because of these decisions.”
Kelly is a retired four-star general and has a uniquely heartbreaking perspective when it comes to offhand comments which could lead to world conflicts- In 2010, his 29 year old son, Marine Corps 1st Lt. Robert Kelly died in a landmine attack in Afghanistan.
Kelly said he had to develop a system to deal with the President’s impulsive nature of speaking without thinking. Kelly said his plan was to “overwhelm him with facts” to hopefully counter Trump’s typical blurting out false information.
During his time at the White House, Trump has recalled many anecdotes about his friends and business partners. He even recounted a conversation about voter fraud with his friend, pro golfer Bernhard Langer. Although according to The New York Times, Langer’s daughter said her dad was “not a friend of President Trump’s” and that she did not “know why he would talk about him.”
According to Karl, Kelly said, “The president will say, ‘I heard from a friend and we will say, ‘That’s not true.'”
Thankfully, the comments Trump made about “fire and fury” didn’t result in a military conflict with North Korea- THIS time. Who can predict when Trump’s comments will escalate an already tense situation? Multiple news outlets reported that Kelly was frustrated with his role of trying to contain Trump and predict what inflammatory thing he might say at any give moment.
Kelly was chosen as Trump’s chief of staff after Reince Priebus was fired in July 2017. Kelly’s past as a marine general seemed like a natural choice to bring some discipline into a chaotic Trump administration.
Kelly made some drastic changes to the way the White House staff was conducting business, first limiting, their unfettered access to Trump.
Kelly spoke in public and in private about the frustrations of dealing with the White House during that climate, saying, “This is my hell.”
In Karl’s book, he said that Kelly “agreed to allow me to quote this and other previously off-the-record remarks he made while he was chief of staff.” Other staff Marine Corps generals, including former Defense Sec. James Mattis, have not been forthcoming with their experience.
In December 2018, Kelly was fired from his post after months of a deteriorating relationship with President Trump with Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney named as his replacement.
Obviously Trump wouldn’t let Kelly go without making rude remarks about him. After Kelly’s termination, Trump said, the job “was way over his head” and that he “just can’t keep his mouth shut.”
The White House declined to comment about Kelly’s remarks in Karl’s new book.