Jun 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

John Kelly defends James Mattis against Trump attacks

John Kelly in the White House in a suit

John Kelly in the White House in July 2017. Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly defended James Mattis on Thursday after President Trump attacked the former defense secretary as "the world's most overrated general" and claimed on Twitter that he was fired.

What he's saying: “The president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation,” Kelly told the Washington Post in an interview. “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," Kelly added. "Then he got nasty. Jim Mattis is a honorable man."

The big picture: Mattis made headlines on Wednesday by condemning President Trump for making a "mockery of our Constitution," writing in a blistering statement that he was "appalled" at the president's response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

  • Trump tweeted on Wednesday evening in response: "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it."

Go deeper: Read Mattis' full statement

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