Former White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE said Saturday that he warned President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister MORE against hiring a “yes man” to succeed him at the White House, saying doing so could lead to impeachment.

Kelly said at the Sea Island Summit, a political conference hosted by Washington Examiner, that he told Trump that he would be impeached if he did not choose a chief of staff with the strength to blunt some of the president’s more self-destructive impulses.


“I said, whatever you do — and we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place — I said whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man,’ someone who won’t tell you the truth — don’t do that. Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached,” Kelly recalled.

“That was almost 11 months ago, and I have an awful lot of, to say the least, second thoughts about leaving,” he added. “It pains me to see what’s going on because I believe if I was still there or someone like me was there, he would not be kind of, all over the place.”

The comments come as the House is in the midst of a fast-paced impeachment investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Democrats have expressed alarm over allegations that the president tied $400 million in military aid to Kiev’s compliance with his repeated requests that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders HuffPost reporter: Sanders could win plurality of delegates but lose nomination Meghan McCain to Joy Behar: 'You guys have done a piss-poor job of convincing me that I should vote for a Democrat' MORE, a chief political rival, on ungrounded corruption accusations. 

Kelly, who left the administration at the end of last year, suggested Saturday that the impeachment investigation launched last month could have been averted if a chief of staff had imposed stricter structure on Trump. 

“Someone has got to be a guide that tells [the president] that you either have the authority or you don’t, or Mr. President, don’t do it,” Kelly said. “Don’t hire someone that will just nod and say, ‘That’s a great idea Mr. President.’ Because you will be impeached.”

“The system that should be in place, clearly — the system of advising, bringing in experts in, having these discussions with the president so he can make an informed decision, that clearly is not in place. And I feel bad that I left,” he added.

Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request Scaramucci thanks John Kelly for speaking up against Trump Trump lashes out over Kelly criticism: 'He misses the action' MORE, Trump’s current acting chief of staff, recently sparked speculation about his future tenure in the White House following a pair of public appearances that led to negative headlines for the White House.

However, he was given a boost by conservatives this week who said he should be kept on.

“Conservatives are proud to support the role Mick Mulvaney continues to play in the Trump Administration,” states a draft of a memo from a group of conservative leaders obtained by The Hill that will be sent to the White House and Capitol Hill.

“Recent news reports demonstrate that that the D.C. Swamp is attacking him — and we believe it is because he has been the most successful Chief of Staff in this administration to advance the Trump pro-America agenda,” it also states.