Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said on Saturday that he regrets quitting because President Trump likely would not be facing impeachment if he was still on the job.
Kelly, 69, told a political conference in Georgia on Saturday that he warned the President against hiring a ‘yes man’ to take his place as chief of staff – an implicit criticism of his successor, Mick Mulvaney.
If Trump failed to follow Kelly’s advice, he would be impeached, the retired four-star Marine general claims to have told the President.
‘I said, whatever you do – and we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place – I said whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man,’ someone who won’t tell you the truth – don’t do that,’ Kelly told the Washington Examiner.
‘Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached.’
Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (seen left with President Trump in Arlington, Virginia, on May 29, 2017) says he regrets resigning last year due to the ongoing impeachment inquiry
Kelly continued: ‘That was almost 11 months ago, and I have an awful lot of, to say the least, second thoughts about leaving.
‘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.’
It appears inevitable that Trump will be impeached by the House of Representatives, which is expected to hold a vote by Christmas.
That vote would then trigger a trial in the Senate. At least 67 senators would need to vote to convict for Trump to be removed from office.
With Republicans having a majority in the upper chamber, Trump’s removal from office appears to be unlikely.
Kelly was named by Trump to be homeland security secretary shortly after the President was inaugurated.
Trump then asked Kelly to replace Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff.
Kelly lasted less than 18 months before he was replaced by Mulvaney, who has been in an acting capacity since taking over.
Kelly did not endorse the impeachment inquiry against Trump. Still, he blames White House aides for playing a part in the crisis.
Kelly said he warned Trump not to replace him with a ‘yes man’ – an implicit criticism of Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney (seen above at the White House on Monday)
‘Someone has got to be a guide that tells [the president] that you either have the authority or you don’t, or Mr. President, don’t do it,’ Kelly said.
‘Don’t hire someone that will just nod and say, ‘That’s a great idea Mr. President.’
‘Because you will be impeached.’
Kelly added: ‘The system that should be in place, clearly – the system of advising, bringing in experts in, having these discussions with the president so he can make an informed decision, that clearly is not in place.
‘And I feel bad that I left.’
The Democratic-led impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump resumed on Saturday with testimony from a senior State Department official, a day after a federal judge buoyed the probe by dismissing Republican claims that it was illegitimate.
Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of state for Europe, arrives to the Capitol for closed door interview at the Capitol in Washington DC on Saturday
Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, met with the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees behind closed doors at the U.S. Capitol.
Democrats claimed victory after a federal district court judge on Friday rejected a claim by Trump and his Republican allies that the process was illegitimate because the full House had not voted to authorize it.
The judge ordered the Trump administration to give the House Judiciary Committee secret material from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
At the heart of the inquiry is a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic contender to face Trump in the 2020 election, and his son Hunter, who had been a director of a Ukrainian energy company.
Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence Committee returns to a closed session where Reeker was expected to appear on Saturday
The Trump administration was withholding $391million in security assistance for Ukraine at the time, and investigators are looking into whether Trump improperly tied the release of the aid to getting Ukraine’s help in probing the Bidens.
William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified on Tuesday that Trump made the aid contingent on Zelenskiy announcing he would investigate the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, had meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
U.S. election law prohibits candidates from accepting foreign help in an election.
Trump denies wrongdoing. And, backed by his fellow Republicans in Congress, insists he is being treated unfairly.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? THE VERY COMPLICATED STEPS INVOLVED IN IMPEACHING DONALD TRUMP
Nancy Pelosi announcing a formal impeachment investigation is only the start of what will be an epic legal and constitutional clash.
Here is how impeachment goes from here.
1) Investigations step up
Six committees are now tasked by Pelosi with investigating Donald Trump with the intention of deciding whether he should be impeached. They are the House Judiciary, Oversight, Intelligence, Ways and Means, Financial Services and Foreign Affairs committees. All of them are now likely to issue a flurry of subpoenas which is certain to lead to a new:
2) Court battle over subpoenas – which could go to the Supreme Court
The Trump administration has so far resisted subpoenas by claiming executive privilege and is certain to continue to do so. Federal judges are already dealing with litigation over subpoenas for Trump’s tax and financial records and many more cases are likely to follow. But the courts have never settled the limits of executive privilege and whether an impeachment inquiry effectively gives Congress more power to overcome it. If Trump fights as hard as he can, it is likely to make its way to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, expect:
3) More hearings
Democrats know they need to convince the public that Trump needs to be put on trial and the best way to do that is hearings like those which electrified the nation during Watergate. They botched the Mueller hearing but if they produce question and answer sessions with people from Trump-world which cause public outrage, they are on their way to:
4) Drawing up formal articles of impeachment in committee
The charge sheet for impeachment – the ‘articles’ – set out what Trump is formally accused of. It has no set format – it can be as long or as short as Congress decides. Three such set of articles have been drawn up – for Andrew Johnson on 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974, and Bill Clinton in 1998. Johnson’s were the most extensive at 11, Nixon faced three, and Bill Clinton four but with a series of numbered charges in each article. Once drawn up, the judicial committee votes on them and if approved, sends them to the House for:
5) Full floor vote on impeachment
The constitution says the House needs a simple majority to proceed, but has to vote on each article. Nixon quit before such a vote so Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton are the only precedent. The House passed two out of the three articles against Clinton and all 11 against Johnson. Passing even one article leads to:
6) Senate impeachment trial
Even if the Senate is clearly not in favor of removing the president, it has to stage a trial if the House votes for impeachment. The hearing is in not in front of the full Senate, but ‘evidentiary committees’ – in theory at least similar to the existing Senate committees. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over it, but the procedures are set by senators. Members of the House prosecute Trump as ‘managers,’ bringing witnesses and presenting evidence to set out their case against the president. The president can defend himself, or, as Clinton did, use attorneys to cross-examine the witnesses. The committee or committees report to the full Senate. Then it can debate in public or deliberate in private on the guilt or innocence of the president. It holds a single open floor vote which will deliver:
7) The verdict
Impeachment must be by two-thirds of the Senate. Voting for impeachment on any one article is good enough to remove the president from office. There is no appeal.