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

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Coronavirus surge is sinking consumer confidence

Data: Hamilton Place Strategies, CivicScience; Chart: Axios Visuals

The rise in coronavirus cases in certain parts of the U.S. is stunting confidence across the country, a crop of new reports show.

Driving the news: After stalling during the previous two-week period, overall economic sentiment declined for the first time in two months, according to the Economic Sentiment Index, a biweekly survey from data firm CivicScience and Hamilton Place Strategies (HPS).

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage."
  2. Health: Mask mandates help control the rise in coronavirus hospitalizations. Hospitals face a crush.
  3. Business: Coronavirus testing is a windfall. Winter threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. World: Putin mandates face masks.

The GOP's monstrous math problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republicans, win or lose next week, face a big — and growing — math problem.

The state of play: They're relying almost exclusively on a shrinking demographic (white men), living in shrinking areas (small, rural towns), creating a reliance on people with shrinking incomes (white workers without college degrees) to survive.