In an interview with former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci â€• whom Kelly canned on his first day on the job â€• Kelly suggested Trumpâ€™s behavior in office proves Americans have to be more rigorous about whom they choose as their president.
â€œI think we need to look harder at who we elect,â€ he said. â€œI think we should look at people that are running for office and put them through the filter: What is their character like? What are their ethics?â€
Kelly alsoÂ agreed with Trumpâ€™s former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that the president shouldnâ€™t be sending in active-duty troops to stop peaceful protests and feared the current polarization is reaching its breaking point.
â€œThere is a concern, I think an awful big concern, that the partisanship has gotten out of hand, the tribal thing has gotten out of hand,â€ Kelly said.
Kelly told Scaramucci that if he were still chief of staff, he would have argued against using force to clear out Lafayette Square so that Trump could do a photo-op at a nearby church.
â€œI wouldâ€™ve argued against it, recommended against it,â€ Kelly said. â€œI would argue that the end result of that was predictable.â€
But Kelly momentarily seemed at a loss for words when Scaramucci asked him if the president was indeed the â€œvery stable geniusâ€ he proclaims himself to be.
After a pregnant pause, he declined to comment on the presidentâ€™s mental state.
â€œUm, heâ€™s â€” whatâ€™s a genius? I donâ€™t know what that is,â€ Kelly said. â€œHe is, as I say, when I was there working the staff process, more often than not, he didnâ€™t like the recommendations. More often than not, he followed the recommendations. … But I donâ€™t think I should comment on â€” Iâ€™m not qualified to comment on stable or unstable or whatever.â€
Although Trumpâ€™s critics might appreciate Kellyâ€™s slightly vague criticism, it should be noted that he was also a controversial administration figureï»¿.
Before becoming chief of staff in July 2017, Kelly served as Trumpâ€™s secretary of Homeland Security, where he oversaw the administrationâ€™s immigration crackdown.
During his stint as chief of staff, Kelly praised Confederate general Robert E. Lee as an â€œhonorable manâ€; claimed Trumpâ€™s proposed immigration policy would help some undocumented immigrants who were previously â€œtoo lazyâ€ to seek protections; and called former staff secretary Rob Porter a â€œman of true integrityâ€ despite abuse allegations from Porterâ€™s two ex-wives.
You can watch the lengthy interview below:
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter