Adam Kinzinger said onetime Trump chief of staff John Kelly 'could barely stay awake' during a White House breakfast and told GOP lawmakers he was 'barely holding it together' in the role

John Kelly
John Kelly at the White House on June 21, 2018.AP Photo/Evan Vucci
  • Kinzinger in his new book wrote of how he witnessed the work that John Kelly was putting in as chief of staff.

  • The former GOP lawmaker said Kelly spent a lot of time trying to restrain many of Trump's personal instincts.

  • "I was surprised by the level of Kelly's distress," he wrote. "He clearly suffered from political shell shock."

Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger said former Trump White House chief of staff John Kelly was once so "exhausted" from his role that he "could barely stay awake" during a private breakfast at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Kinzinger made the revelation in his newly-released book, "Renegade," where he spoke of the internal pressures that the retired Marine Corps general and former Homeland Security secretary faced as he sought to bring a sense of stability to a White House that was often guided more by Trump's personal whims than the counsel of top advisors.

The former Republican lawmaker in his book detailed how Kelly arrived to the breakfast "looking gaunt and exhausted" as he intended to update five GOP lawmakers on developments in Afghanistan.

"It was 8:00 a.m. and he could barely stay awake," Kinzinger wrote. "He told us he was trying as hard as he could but was 'barely holding it together.'"

"I was surprised by the level of Kelly's distress," he continued. "He clearly suffered from political shell shock."

Kelly served as chief of staff from July 2017 through January 2019, and Kinzinger in the book stated that the breakfast occurred sometime during the middle of the retired general's tenure at the White House.

Kinzinger said that Kelly was intended to be a moderating force in the administration, but had to exert energy to combat Trump's preference to trust his own judgment or the views of those fully aligned with him, which the former congressman said was a goal that Kelly pursued "in vain."

"The problem with Trump, from a chief of staff's perspective, was that he preferred to do everything informally and on his own with minimum staff engagement," Kinzinger wrote. "Consequently, Kelly and others regularly discovered that Trump had considered advice from this crony or that social contact at his Mar-a-Lago resort and was serious about acting on it."

"The work of diverting Trump's attention away from terrible ideas and directing him to fulfill his duties obviously took all of Kelly's energy," he added.

In October, Kelly in a CNN statement confirmed several claims from a damning 2020 piece published by The Atlantic which alleged that Trump had called fallen US veterans "suckers" and "losers" for having died while at war.

"What can I add that has not already been said?" Kelly said in the statement. "A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all 'suckers' because 'there is nothing in it for them.'"

"A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because 'it doesn't look good for me,'" he continued. "A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family — for all Gold Star families — on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America's defense are 'losers' and wouldn't visit their graves in France."

Kelly was unrelenting in his criticism of Trump as he concluded his statement.

"A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators," he said. "A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law."

"There is nothing more that can be said. God help us," he added.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung in a statement provided by NBC News at the time said that Kelly "totally clowned himself with these debunked stories he's made up because he didn't serve his President well while working as Chief of Staff."

Read the original article on Business Insider