White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Photo: AFP Contributor / Contributor/Getty Images

Ex-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Saturday at a Washington Examiner panel discussion that before he left his position last year, he cautioned President Trump not to hire "a yes man" as his replacement or he'd risk impeachment.

What they're saying: Trump responded to Kelly's comments later on Saturday, saying: "John Kelly never said that, he never said anything like that. If he would have said that I would have thrown him out of office. He just wants to come back into the action like everybody else does," per CNN.

  • White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham responded to Kelly's observations, stating: “I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President,” CNN reports.
  • Kelly also expressed regret on Saturday about his exit, adding he could have helped Trump avoid the present impeachment inquiry had he surrounded himself with those who could curb his worst instincts. “It pains me to see what’s going on because I believe if I was still there or someone like me was there, he would not be kind of, all over the place,” Kelly said.
  • At a second panel on Saturday, Kelly also weighed in on Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria as a “catastrophically bad idea."

Between the lines via the Washington Post: Kelly's candid comments imply "he blames acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and others in the West Wing for not doing more to stop Trump’s behavior."

Go deeper

Case growth outpacing testing in coronavirus hotspots

Data: The COVID Tracking Project. Note: Vermont and Hawaii were not included because they have fewer than 20 cases per day. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The United States' alarming rise in coronavirus cases isn't due to increased testing — particularly not where cases have grown fastest over the last month.

Why it matters: The U.S. doesn't yet know what it looks like when a pandemic rages on relatively unchecked after the health system has become overwhelmed. It may be about to find out.

The impending retail apocalypse

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Because of the coronavirus and people's buying habits moving online, retail stores are closing everywhere — often for good.

Why it matters: Malls are going belly up. Familiar names like J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and J. Crew have filed for bankruptcy. Increasingly, Americans' shopping choices will boil down to a handful of internet Everything Stores and survival-of-the-fittest national chains.

Biden campaign using Instagram to mobilize celebrity supporters

Collins appears on the Build live interview series in November 2019. Photo: Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

The Biden campaign is launching a new initiative today that will draft Hollywood celebrities for Instagram Live chats with campaign officials and other Biden supporters.

Why it matters: The campaign, called #TeamJoeTalks, is an attempt to open up a new front on social media, drawing on celebrities’ Instagram followers to help find and motivate voters while large parts of the country remain locked down.