Trump offered FBI chief's job to John Kelly on the condition that he's loyal 'to him and only him', claims book

Trump wanted to hire the former chief of staff after firing James Comey but Kelly refused saying he would remain loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law


                            Trump offered FBI chief's job to John Kelly on the condition that he's loyal 'to him and only him', claims book
(Getty Images)
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The pre-election season has seen President Donald Trump being challenged by a number of books. After his former national security adviser John Bolton and niece Mary Trump came up with a couple of publications targeting the president on his work and family fronts respectively, the incumbent is set to meet another challenging book.

The New York Times’s Pulitzer Prize-wining reporter Michael S Schmidt has revealed in his upcoming book 'Donald Trump v. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President' that a day after he fired FBI chief James Comey, Trump called up John Kelly offering him the post but on one condition — exclusive loyalty.

According to a report in Axios that cites Schmidt’s new book set to be released on September 1, the author said: "Kelly needed to be loyal to him, and only him." Kelly, 70, who was the secretary of homeland security at the time (January to July 2017), "immediately realized the problem with Trump's request for loyalty, and he pushed back on the president's demand," the report cited Schmidt as saying. Kelly reportedly said he would remain loyal to the Constitution and rule of law instead.

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James Comey (Getty Images)

Kelly, a retired US Marine Corps general, became the White House chief of staff in July 31 and continued in the post till January 2019.

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Trump and Kelly's terms deteriorated over time

Trump announced his decision to remove Kelly in December 2018, a month after the Democrats regained control of the House in the midterm elections, but the duo’s relationship had been deteriorating steadily for months and Kelly’s departure was expected by many. Anonymous sources in the administration said that in April 2018, Kelly had called Trump an "idiot" several times and projected himself as one who was defending the country against a disaster. He still managed to continue for some time but the relationship never recovered and Kelly and Trump were not even speaking to each other. The president subsequently sought somebody with greater political expertise to become his chief of staff ahead of the 2020 presidential elections. Kelly was consequently replaced with Mick Mulvaney (acting) and Mark Meadows.

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Kelly, who recently made headlines for criticizing Trump over his decision to deploy military power to quell protests in the US, was "repeatedly struck by how Trump failed to understand how those who worked for him — like Kelly and other top former generals — had interest in being loyal not to him, but to the institutions of American democracy," Schmidt wrote in his book, the report said. Kelly featured in another book — the 2019 memoir of former UN ambassador Nikki Haley — who claimed that he and former secretary of state Rex Tillerson sought her help to save the country from Trump. He reportedly advised Trump not to hire a 'yes man' as his tenure at the White House neared an end. 

However, Kelly also conceded that having to decline Trump was like "French kissing a chainsaw", the book mentioned. Kelly also told others that Trump wanted to behave like an authoritarian and had to be restrained time and again and reminded what he could or could not do legally, it has been revealed by Schmidt. "Aside from questions of the law, Kelly has told others that one of the most difficult tasks he faced with Trump was trying to stop him from pulling out of NATO — a move that Trump has repeatedly threatened but never made good on, which would have been a seismic breach of American alliances and an extraordinary gift to Putin," the reporter-author said.

According to a report in CNN, Trump’s job condition to Kelly made evident his thinking after he fired Comey in May 2017. At the time, Comey was leading the probe into whether the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russians who allegedly interfered in the 2016 election. According to the administration, Comey was removed because of the way he handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

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