“Having seen something ‘questionable (in the call),’ Vindman properly notified his superiors,” Kelly said at an event at Drew University, according to the magazine. “When subpoenaed by Congress in the House impeachment hearings, Vindman complied and told the truth.”
“He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave,” he said, according to the magazine. “He went and told his boss what he just heard.”
“We teach them, ‘Don’t follow an illegal order. And if you’re ever given one, you’ll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss,'” Kelly said, according to the magazine.
The White House has not responded to request for comment on Kelly’s remarks.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called Kelly’s comments criticizing the President “disingenuous” and said she was “disappointed” Thursday morning.
“The media, in my view, and I feel very strongly about this, is not the enemy of the people,” he said, according to the newspaper. “We need a free media. That said, you have to be careful about what you are watching and reading, because the media has taken sides. So if you only watch Fox News, because it’s reinforcing what you believe, you are not an informed citizen.”
The former staffer also appeared to express regret over his decision to leave his White House post, according to the Daily Record, which reported that Kelly said: “I guess I feel bad, in a way, that I did leave, and I did know that if (Trump) didn’t find someone like me that was willing not to stand up to him.”
“But I stood firm and managed to get him to listen to all sorts of inputs and then he makes a decision, I knew this would happen,” he said, according to the newspaper.
During the event, some protesters shouted at Kelly over the administration’s now-reversed “zero tolerance” policy on the southern border and its travel ban on a number of foreign countries, Peter Nicholas, the article’s author, told CNN.
The protesters were escorted out, though “Kelly handled it well, watching and in some cases trying to answer them,” Nicholas said.
Kelly, who left the White House under contentious circumstances in January 2019, has occasionally voiced criticisms of the Trump administration since leaving his post, but his comments on Wednesday are perhaps the furthest he’s gone in his rebuke of the administration over the last year.
In October, Kelly said the President would not be in the middle of an impeachment process if he were still chief of staff, implying that White House advisers could have prevented it. He also said before he left the White House he advised Trump on hiring his replacement.
“I said whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man,’ someone who won’t tell you the truth — don’t do that,” Kelly said at the time. “Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached.”