White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has escalated an unusually personal fight with a prominent Democratic Congress member, publicly accusing him of being “irresponsible.”
The comments from Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, came less than a week after Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) said he was a “disgrace to the uniform he used to wear” because of Kelly’s role in advising President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which has protected nearly 800,000 young adult unauthorized immigrants from deportation and allowed them to work legally since 2012.
Kelly, who has earned a reputation for bluntness, didn’t wait long to respond.
“As far as the congressman and other irresponsible members of congress are concerned, they have the luxury of saying what they want as they do nothing and have almost no responsibility,” Kelly wrote in an email last night to Fox News. “They can call people liars but it would be inappropriate for me to say the same thing back at them. As my blessed mother used to say ‘empty barrels make the most noise.’”
“The congressman has a right to his opinion,” he continued.
Gutierrez had sparked the initial fight on September 5, the day the plan to end DACA was announced.
"General Kelly is a hypocrite who is a disgrace to the uniform he used to wear,” Gutierrez said in a statement at the time. “He has no honor and should be drummed out of the White House along with the white supremacists and those enabling the President’s actions by ‘just following orders.’”
Kelly’s response was unusual for a former four-star general, who traditionally — even after retirement — try to largely avoid the political fray. But Kelly is in an unusual spot. Before moving to the White House, he worked as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which runs DACA.
So he may feel he has the right to fire back at Congress, which didn’t pass DACA-related legislation after former President Barack Obama created the program in 2012.