John F. Kelly

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Hell these are Marines. Men like them held Guadalcanal and took Iwo Jima. Baghdad ain't shit.

John Francis Kelly (born 11 May 1950) is a board member at Caliburn International and a retired U.S. Marine Corps general who served as the White House Chief of Staff for President Donald Trump from July 31, 2017, to January 2, 2019. He had previously served as Secretary of Homeland Security in the Trump administration.

He is a retired United States Marine Corps general and the former commander of United States Southern Command, the Unified Combatant Command responsible for American military operations in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Kelly previously served as the commanding general of the Multi-National Force—West in Iraq from February 2008 to February 2009, and as the commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North in October 2009.



  • Hell these are Marines. Men like them held Guadalcanal and took Iwo Jima. Baghdad ain't shit.
    • Marine General Speaks Out During the initial assault on Baghdad, Kelly responding to a reporter if he would ever consider defeat. (April 2007)


  • The border is, if not wide open, then certainly open enough to get what the demand requires inside of the country. Terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens or even bring weapons of mass destruction into the United States.
    • Posture Statement of General John F. Kelly, United States Marine Corps Commander, United States Southern Command, before the 114th Congress Senate Armed Services Committee (March 12, 2015)

Quotes about Kelly[edit]

  • I am pleased by the confirmation votes of Generals Mattis and Kelly. These uniquely qualified leaders will immediately begin the important work of rebuilding our military, defending our Nation, and securing our borders. I am proud to have these two American heroes join my administration.
  • It was easier to go along for the ride. Donald's chiefs of staff are prime examples of this phenomenon. John Kelly, at least for a while, and Mick Mulvaney, without any reservations at all, would behave the same way- until they were ousted for not being sufficiently "loyal." That's how it always works with the sycophants. First they remain silent no matter what outrages are committed; then they make themselves complicit by not acting. Ultimately, they find they are expendable when Donald needs a scapegoat.
    • Mary L. Trump, Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created The World's Most Dangerous Man (2020), p. 108
  • Where others saw fickleness or even lies, Kushner saw Trump's constant, shifting inconsistency as a challenge to be met with an ever-adapting form of managing up. Incomplete information, inadequate staffing- the appearance of impulsive decision making was all someone else's fault, according to Kushner. John Kelly had a less flattering assessment. "Crazytown," Kelly said.
  • Trump, a former military academy cadet- albeit not an enthusiastic one- had touted a return to military values and expertise. In fact, he most of all had sought to preserve his personal right to defy or ignore his own organization. This, too, made sense, since not really having an organization was the most efficient way to sidestep the people in your organization and to dominate them. It was just one irony of his courtship of admired military figures like James Mattis, H.R. McMaster, and John Kelly: they found themselves working in an administration that was in every way inimical to basic command principles.
    • Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (2018), p. 109
  • In the wake of the immolating new conference, all eyes were suddenly on Kelly- this was his baptism of Trump fire. Spicer, Priebus, Cohn, Powell, Bannon, Tillerson, Mattis, Mnuchin- virtually the entire senior staff and cabinet of the Trump presidency, past and present, had traveled through the stages of adventure, challenge, frustration, battle, self-justification, and doubt, before finally having to confront the very real likelihood that the president they worked for- whose presidency they bore some official responsibility for- didnt have the wherewithal to adequately function in the job. The debate, as Bannon put it, was not about whether the president's situation was bad, but whether it was Twenty-Fifth-Amendment bad.
    • Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (2018), p. 296-297
  • Tillerson would merely become another example of a subordinate who believed his own abilities could somehow compensate for Trump's failings. Aligned with Tillerson were three generals, Mattis, McMaster, and Kelly, each seeing themselves as representing maturity, stability, and restraint. And each, of course, was resented by Trump for it. The suggestion that any or all of these men might be more focused and even tempered than Trump himself was cause for sulking and tantrums on the president's part. The daily discussion among senior staffers, those still there and those now gone- all of whom had written off Tillerson's future in the Trump administration- was how long General Kelly would last as chief of staff. There was some thing of a virtual office pool, and the joke was that Reince Priebus was likely to be Trump's longest-serving chief of staff. Kely's distaste for the president was open knowledge- in his every word and gesture he condescended to Trump- the president's distaste for Kelly even more so. It was sport for the president to defy Kelly, who had become the one thing in his life he had never been able to abide: a disapproving and censorious father figure.
    • Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (2018), p. 304-305

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