Trump lashes out over Kelly criticism: 'He misses the action'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE on Thursday tore into his former chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, deriding his job performance and accusing him of breaching decorum after Kelly openly criticized the president's rhetoric and decisionmaking. 

Trump lashed out at Kelly after reports circulated that his former chief of staff and Homeland Security secretary defended migrants, the press and Lt. Col. Alexander VindmanAlexander VindmanTrump takes heat for firing intel watchdog during pandemic America's diplomats deserve our respect White House withdraws nomination for Pentagon budget chief who questioned Ukraine aid hold MORE, who was reassigned from his post after testifying against Trump in the impeachment inquiry.

"When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn’t do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head. Being Chief of Staff just wasn’t for him," Trump tweeted. "He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper, but like so many X’s, he misses the action & just can’t keep his mouth shut, which he actually has a military and legal obligation to do."

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The president went on to claim Kelly's wife told him the former administration official and four-star general respected him "greatly" and "will only speak well of" him.

Trump nominated Kelly to serve as his Homeland Security secretary before appointing him chief of staff in July 2017. He stayed on in that role for roughly 17 months, stepping down at the end of 2018.

Trump has a tendency to lash out at former administration officials who openly criticize him, having tweeted angrily about former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonStumbling US diplomacy flattens Washington's influence curve Trump lashes out over Kelly criticism: 'He misses the action' Timeline: Trump and Romney's rocky relationship MORE, former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonChina sees chance to expand global influence amid pandemic Trump ignores science at our peril Bolton defends decision to shutter NSC pandemic office MORE and former communications director Anthony ScaramucciAnthony ScaramucciWell-wishes pour in across media for Chris Cuomo after coronavirus diagnosis The Memo: Trump mulls the biggest gamble of his presidency The Memo: Trump's coronavirus briefings face criticism MORE, among others.

Kelly appeared Wednesday night at a Drew University event in New Jersey, where he laid out a number of disagreements with Trump's policies and comments.

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Kelly defended Vindman, saying he acted properly in reporting his concerns with Trump's July 25 call with the Ukrainian president. He said the media is "not the enemy of the people," dismissing an attack frequently deployed by the president. Kelly described migrants as "overwhelmingly good people," an implicit rebuke of Trump's warnings of dangerous caravans and the need to curb immigration. 

Kelly's tenure was marked by his turbulent relationship with Trump. Kelly tried to rein in some of the president's more impulsive behavior and curb leaks within the White House, but the administration continued to struggle with infighting and controversy.

His successor, Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOne year in, Democrats frustrated by fight for Trump tax returns Meadows joins White House in crisis mode Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE, has been acting chief of staff for more than 400 days. Mulvaney has in the past been critical of Kelly's approach to the job, saying it hurt morale.