White House chief of staff John Kelly says President Donald Trump is “Somewhat embarrassed” that he has to deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation when he meets with foreign leaders, noting that he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commiserate over their respective investigations when they meet.
“It's like, you know, you walk in and you know the first couple of minutes of every conversation might revolve around that kind of thing,” Kelly said in an interview with NPR that aired Friday.
Netanyahu is being investigated over corruption charges.
Kelly, is being criticized for other comments he made in the interview about immigrants who come to the United States via the southern border.
Asked about Attorney General Jeff Sessions warning that families who cross the U.S. border illegally and are caught will be separated from their children – Kelly, who served as Secretary of Homeland Security before going to the White House, told NPR deterring migrants from coming to the United States is “a big name of the game.”
He then made comments generalizing those people.
“They're also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They're overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from – fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They don't speak English, obviously that's a big thing. They don't speak English. They don't integrate well, they don't have skills. They're not bad people. They're coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws. But a big name of the game is deterrence,” he said.
Several Twitter users, including a former Obama administration official and a Jesuit priest noted that such comments were generalizations of an entire group of people, and that similar words were once used to describe Irish immigrants who came to the United States.
WH COS John Kelly says that immigrants from rural areas without English skills don’t integrate into the U.S.— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) May 11, 2018
My dad came from rural China and spoke little English. He raised a son who held the same rank in the Obama WH (Asst. to the Pres.) that Kelly holds. I’d say we did okay. pic.twitter.com/m1fW3oqmRz
Every hateful, stereotypical and racist thing John Kelly said about Mexican-Americans was said about every other immigrant group that ended up building this country. That includes his (and my) Irish ancestors. #IrishNeedNotApply pic.twitter.com/xD1IN5WxXa— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) May 11, 2018