White House Chief of Staff Says Schoolteacher Who Insulted Military Should ‘Go to Hell’ While Defending Release of Classified Memo That Deliberately Distorts Facts to Impugn Integrity of FBI

John Kelly continues to throw away the good name he earned in decades of service as a Marine to serve the agenda of President Trump.

John Kelly continues to throw away the good name he earned in decades of service as a Marine to serve the agenda of President Trump.

Fox News (“John Kelly says anti-military teacher should ‘go to hell,’ vows swift memo release in interview”):

White House chief of staff John Kelly, in a wide-ranging interview with Fox News Radio, said the California teacher who has made headlines for bashing the military in a profane classroom rant should “go to hell” – while also vowing that the classified memo that Republicans say reveals shocking government surveillance abuses will soon be made public.

“Well, I think the guy ought to go to hell,” Kelly, a retired Marine general, told host Brian Kilmeade on Wednesday in a post-State of the Union interview. “I just hope he enjoys the liberties and the lifestyle that we have fought for.”

Gregory Salcido, the El Rancho High School teacher, was recorded asking students in his government class why they would want to serve in the military overseas, calling them “the lowest of our low.” He has since been put on administrative leave.

Kelly also said the classified memo circulating in Congress that purportedly reveals government surveillance abuses will be made public soon.

“It’ll be released here pretty quick I think and the whole world can see it,” he said.

Like Brandon Friedman, an infantry veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I find Kelly’s attack on Salcido extremely distasteful. While I obviously disagree with Salcido’s take on the military (I’m a veteran myself, my father was a Vietnam vet who served 20 years as an enlisted soldier, and I now teach field grade officers for a living), it’s simply unseemly for the White House chief of staff, let alone one who is a retired four-star general, to attack a private citizen in this fashion. I get that he’s passionate about the military, having served over four decades in uniform and having lost his own son to war. But the Colonel Jessep routine is beyond old; it fundamentally misapprehends the nature of service.

It’s frankly even more galling to take that smug tone while in the same breath gleefully cheering the release of classified information to foment a political lie to damage our nation’s premier law enforcement agency. The Bureau released a rather damning statement on that score:

The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process.

With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.

Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, goes further:

On Monday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) moved to release a memo written by his staff that cherry-picks facts, ignores others and smears the FBI and the Justice Department — all while potentially revealing intelligence sources and methods. He did so even though he had not read the classified documents that the memo characterizes and refused to allow the FBI to brief the committee on the risks of publication and what it has described as “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.” The party-line vote to release the Republican memo but not a Democratic response was a violent break from the committee’s nonpartisan tradition and the latest troubling sign that House Republicans are willing to put the president’s political dictates ahead of the national interest.

The reason for Republicans’ abrupt departure from our nonpartisan tradition is growing alarm over special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. In a matter of months, the president’s first national security adviser and a foreign policy adviser have pleaded guilty to felony offenses, while his former campaign chairman and deputy campaign manager have also been indicted. As Mueller and his team move closer to the president and his inner circle, a sense of panic is palpable on the Hill. GOP members recognize that the probe threatens not only the president but also their majorities in Congress.

In response, they have drawn on the stratagem of many criminal defense lawyers — when the evidence against a defendant is strong, put the government on trial. The Nunes memo is designed to do just that by furthering a conspiracy theory that a cabal of senior officials within the FBI and the Justice Department were so tainted by bias against President Trump that they irredeemably poisoned the investigation. If it wasn’t clear enough that this was the goal, Nunes removed all doubt when he declared that the Justice Department and the FBI themselves were under investigation at the hearing in which the memo was ordered released.

This is simply shameful and it’s damning, indeed, that Kelly is throwing his credibility away in order to foment this outrage.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Intelligence, Military Affairs, National Security
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. I honestly thought Kelly would have more integrity than this and that he’d bring some sanity to this White House.

    I was wrong.




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  2. Mark Ivey says:

    The Republican party has declared war on the Republican filled FBI and Dept of Justice. Your are either loyal to Trump or you are a deep state enemy. Sad.




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  3. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Kelly is looking more and more like a MacArthur wannabe, trying to preach to the country about how it ought to behave. As the son and grandson of combat veterans, I have great respect for the military; but generals are expected to uphold standards higher than those of a fly-by-night corporate bigwig.




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  4. CSK says:

    No one will get out of this unsullied.




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  5. KM says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I honestly thought Kelly would have more integrity than this and that he’d bring some sanity to this White House.

    I’m having a hard time remembering WHY anybody thought that, to be honest. Was it the uniform that fooled people? What precisely made people – more specifically liberals – think this man would be the adult in the room when he willingly agreed to sign on to the shitshow in progress that is Trump’s Admin?




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  6. becca says:

    This just keeps getting more and more sordid.The WH, along with the rest of the GOP, is full of stereotypical B-movie bad guys and it is beyond surreal that they are accepted in any civil society, much less hold power.

    Trashy, tawdry, tasteless, tacky, and it all says Trump.




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  7. Kathy says:

    Gregory Salcido, the El Rancho High School teacher, was recorded asking students in his government class why they would want to serve in the military overseas, calling them “the lowest of our low.”

    That’s obviously wrong. the “lowest of our low” concentrate in Washington, as Mr. Kelly has just conveniently demonstrated.




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  8. Butch Bracknell says:

    This shouldn’t surprise anyone who actually knows and served with John Kelly. He’s an asshole, through and through. There are some things to like about him, to be sure, like the time he testified, as a 4 Star, for James Clement of Taliban pisser fame, and the fact he was the anti-Amos, but there’s much not to like about him as well. This kind of Chesty Puller, rough and tumble intemperance has no place in the WH.




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  9. Butch Bracknell says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I hoped to be surprised, but didn’t expect it.




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  10. reid says:

    @becca: It is amazing. It took 20+ years of right-wing propaganda to build the inescapable bubble. Once you’re indoctrinated, you’ll believe your side about anything and reflexively hate the other side. The truth doesn’t even enter into it anymore.




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  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    a conspiracy theory that a cabal of senior officials within the FBI and the Justice Department were so tainted by bias against President Trump that they irredeemably poisoned the investigation.

    It’s not a theory if it’s demonstrably true. The FBI and the DOJ have a long history of bias against lawbreakers. Jus’ sayin’…




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  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I wonder when the obstruction of justice indictments against Nunes will be filed.




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  13. Guarneri says:

    Nice job of conflating issues.

    “It’s frankly even more galling to take that smug tone while in the same breath gleefully cheering the release of classified information to foment a political lie to damage our nation’s premier law enforcement agency.”

    Read the memo, have you? It is unimaginable, isn’t it, that the accused would bleat like a stuck pig. I’m innocent! I was framed!

    Release it. Release it all. As long as truly classified source/method info is not involved (a claim now dropped….of course). Then you can go from wild speculation and shixt slinging to rational debate.




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  14. inhumans99 says:

    @Guarneri:

    Dude…please stop talking, it is rude to interrupt when adults are speaking. If you learn to troll better we might let you rejoin the conversation.




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  15. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I honestly thought Kelly would have more integrity than this and that he’d bring some sanity to this White House.

    Sadly, I had no such expectation.

    Remember when, back in 2016 just prior to the election, Kelly remarked that the Civil War was caused by a “lack of ability to compromise.” Notwithstanding the (it didn’t turn out so well) Missouri Compromise, I remember thinking that, well, now we know where he stands on the Civil War.

    White Nationalists are getting their day in the sun now. Unless the 2018 mid-terms change the balance in either the Senate or the House, this is what we will get on a regular basis.




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  16. MarkedMan says:

    I think people have a lot of expectations from Kelly because he is so clearly second rate. I’m not being facetious or sarcastic here (mostly) but quite honestly he is one of the very few of Trump’s picks to rise to that level. Most are third rate or lower, often much, much lower. So by contrast Kelly looks good. But no other administration in recent memory would have even considered him.




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  17. Just 'nutha... says:

    Unlike you, I’m not surprised about Kelly at all. Hos gotta ho, it’s their nature.




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  18. An Interested Party says:

    Yet another example of how the stench of the Clown-in-Chief taints everything it touches…




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