John Kelly: Trump's border wall would be 'waste of money'

Former White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE on Wednesday voiced opposition to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump mocks wind power: 'When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television' Pentagon investigator probing whether acting chief boosted former employer Boeing Trump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral MORE's push to build a border wall, saying that a structure spanning the entire U.S.-Mexico border would be a "waste of money."

“We don’t need a wall from sea to shining sea," Kelly said during a public interview at Duke University, according to Politico

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The former Trump administration official noted that there are areas along the southern border where steel barriers would be necessary. But Kelly mainly broke with the president's policy proposals on immigration. He also rejected the president's assertion that migrants coming to the southern border are criminals. 

“They’re overwhelmingly not criminals,” Kelly said. “They’re people coming up here for economic purposes. I don’t blame them for that.”

The comments from Kelly marked the first time he's spoken publicly about his time in the White House since leaving the Trump administration in December. 

Trump declared a national emergency last month to find funding for a wall after Congress passed a spending bill without the $5.7 billion he had demanded.

The House passed a resolution last week to block the action. The Senate appears to have enough votes to block it as well, though neither chamber has the votes to override Trump's promised veto. 

Kelly's 17-month tenure as chief of staff was marked by many riffs with the president. Kelly in December said that the border wall that Trump has repeatedly demanded was not actually a wall.

The comments led Trump to tweet that a "concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED."