Kelly: No longer silent
John Kelly has jumped off the Trump train, said Kevin Cullen in The Boston Globe. In a speech at Drew University, President Trump’s former chief of staff broke ranks with his former boss and defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated war hero who was pulled from the National Security Council and escorted from the White House in retaliation for his impeachment testimony. Vindman “did exactly what we teach them to do,” said Kelly, a retired Marine general. “We teach them, ‘Don’t follow an illegal order.’” Kelly also defended the news media, called migrants “overwhelmingly good people,” and said Trump was naive for thinking he could persuade North Korea to give up nuclear weapons. Trump fired back on Twitter, saying Kelly was in “way over his head” as chief of staff and has a “military and legal obligation” to “keep his mouth shut.” Actually, the reverse is true: Kelly is warning Americans that “Trump is an insecure, vindictive man who retaliated against a career Army officer who literally bled for his country.”
The chatter generated by Kelly’s words has “largely avoided the most important point,” said Greg Sargent in The Washington Post: “Trump’s former chief of staff fully validated the case against Trump that got him impeached.” Kelly made it clear he believes Trump subverted U.S. policy on Ukraine’s defensive fight against Russia to his own political ends and that Vindman was right to object. Kelly gave voice to an even greater heresy, said Chris Cillizza at CNN.com. He said the media “is not the enemy of the people,” and warned that those who only watch Fox News are just reinforcing their beliefs and aren’t “informed citizens.” It was a “powerful” rebuke of the blatantly pro-Trump network Republicans say they trust more than any other.
Kelly’s about-face is welcome, said Rick Wilson in TheDailyBeast.com, but it’s “too little, too late, and too lame.” As Trump’s most senior adviser for 18 months, Kelly knew full well what a danger the ignorant, reckless president posed to our country, but “with an eye on his military pension and future job opportunities kept his mouth shut.” Vindman “showed more balls in one day” than Kelly ever did in Trump’s service. Still, “better late than never,” said the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger in an editorial. For Trump’s former enablers, speaking up now won’t “wipe that stubborn orange stain off their reputations.” But “they owe it to the country, just the same.”