According to Politico, former White House chief of staff John Kelly spoke on Wednesday evening about his time in the Trump administration. He differed with President Donald Trump on immigration and other issues in an interview at Duke University.
During the on-stage interview, Kelly said he viewed his two years in the White House, first as Homeland Security secretary and then as chief of staff, as his civic duty. He said he would have likely made the same choice if Hillary Clinton had become president and offered him the job.
Kelly maintained that his job was the most important one he’d ever held, although he also called it “the least enjoyable job” he’d ever had.
Kelly then addressed immigration with a markedly different attitude than Trump. He denied that migrants who come to the U.S. illegally are dangerous criminals. “They’re overwhelmingly not criminals,” Kelly said. “They’re people coming up here for economic purposes. I don’t blame them for that.”
He also said that a border wall across the entire U.S.-Mexico border would be a “waste of money.” Kelley said that there are areas where a wall would be effective, but “we don’t need a wall from sea to shining sea.” Trump has also adjusted his expectations about the length of a border wall.
Kelly also defended NATO, which Trump has repeatedly claimed to be a drain on U.S. money.
Finally, Kelly drew laughter from the audience when he shared the advice he gave to his replacement, Mick Mulvaney. He told Mulvaney that the chief of staff’s job is to tell the president “what he needs to hear.” He also told Mulvaney that he should “run for it.”