House impeachment managers on Wednesday used former White House chief of staff John Kelly’s words in the aftermath of the Capitol as they pressed their case against former President Donald Trump.
The day after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection, Kelly said in a CNN interview that he believed Trump willfully riled up the mob that stormed into the Capitol.
“The president knows who he’s talking to when he tweets or when he makes statements,” Kelly told CNN. “He knows who he’s talking to. He knows what he wants them to do.”
At the time Kelly said it was “no surprise” that the deadly events took place after Trump and others fed the president’s supporters a steady stream of falsehoods about the results of the November election.
Rep. Joe Neguse, one of the Democratic impeachment managers, seized on Kelly’s turn-of-phrase.
“No surprise. Think about that — no surprise,” he said. “The president had every reason to know that this would happen because he assembled the mob, he summoned the mob, and he incited the mob.
“He knew when he took that podium on that fateful morning, that those in attendance had heeded his words, and they were waiting for his orders to begin fighting,” Neguse continued.
In that same interview, Kelly — who left the White House in 2019 — said he would have supported an effort to oust Trump from office if he were still in the administration.
He also laid blame on the president’s advisers whom Kelly believed did little to push back on Trump’s impulses.
“Toward the end of my time there, all I ever heard from these devotees in the White House is, you have to let Trump be Trump,” Kelly said. “Well, let me just say, this is what happens.”