Kelly pushes back on Trump characterization of migrants in campaign announcement: 'They're overwhelmingly good people'

Kelly pushes back on Trump characterization of migrants in campaign announcement: 'They're overwhelmingly good people'

Former White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE condemned President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE’s controversial comments calling some Mexican migrants “rapists” and criminals, saying they’re “overwhelmingly good people” looking for jobs in the United States.

Kelly, who also served as Homeland Security secretary, told an audience at Drew University on Wednesday that he disapproved of Trump’s rhetoric about migrants when he announced his presidential bid.

Trump famously declared some migrants coming into the U.S. from Mexico as “rapists” and criminals.

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“In fact, they’re overwhelmingly good people … They’re not all rapists and they’re not all murderers. And it’s wrong to characterize them that way,” Kelly said, according to The Atlantic. “I disagreed with the president a number of times.” 

While serving as a Cabinet member in charge of the Department of Homeland Security, Kelly was responsible for advancing Trump’s immigration plan, which included his long-promised border wall.

Kelly, however, told the crowd that he disagreed with the president’s proposal to build a barrier “from sea to shining sea.”

The former Trump official has previously condemned Trump’s proposed structure spanning the entire U.S.-Mexico border, calling it a “waste of money” in March 2019. 

The Atlantic noted that Kelly made several remarks against the president during his Q&A, including praising the impeachment witness who was ousted from his job on the National Security Council.

“He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave,” Kelly said of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. “He went and told his boss what he just heard.”

Kelly was selected as chief of staff in July 2017 to bring order to Trump’s chaotic White House, but their relationship gradually deteriorated as the president pushed back on the retired Marine Corps general’s constraints.

He left the position at the end of 2018 and was replaced by Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic Trump taps Brooke Rollins as acting domestic policy chief MORE, the current acting chief of staff.