Former President Donald Trump once told General John Kelly, then his chief of staff, that Adolf Hitler “did a lot of good things,” according to a new book.
In Frankly, We Did Win This Election, author Michael Bender claims that Trump made the remark during a trip to Europe in 2018 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, served as White House chief of staff from 2017 to 2019 and later offered harsh criticisms of his former boss. Bender, the Wall Street Journal’s senior White House reporter, has interviewed the former president since he left office.
Trump reportedly told Kelly: “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.”
The comment came when Kelly was giving Trump a history lesson about the war and “reminded the president which countries were on which side during the conflict.”
The general “connected the dots from the First World War to the Second World War and all of Hitler’s atrocities.”
Trump’s words “shocked” Kelly, Bender wrote. Citing unnamed sources, the author claimed Kelly “told the president that he was wrong, but Trump was undeterred.”
Bender also wrote that the former president has denied making the remark about Hitler.
Trump reportedly cited Germany’s economic recovery in the 1930s, Bender wrote, but “Kelly pushed back again and argued that the German people would have been better off poor than subjected to the Nazi genocide.”
Kelly reportedly told Trump that even if his claims about Germany’s economy were true “you cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler. You just can’t.”
Bender also claims in his book that Kelly made an effort to deal with the former president’s “stunning disregard for history.”
“Senior officials described his understanding of slavery, Jim Crow or the Black experience in general post-civil war as vague to nonexistent,” Bender wrote. “But Trump’s indifference to Black history was similar to his disregard for the history of any race, religion or creed.”
Trump’s 2018 trip to Europe was controversial. He canceled a visit to an American military cemetery near Paris and was later alleged to have called the war dead “suckers” and “losers.” Trump denied making those comments.
According to a CNN report in October 2020, Kelly had told friends Trump was “the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.”
“The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it’s more pathetic than anything else,” Kelly said.
Adolf Hitler was dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945. His Nazi regime started World War II and carried out the Holocaust, systematically murdering 6 million European Jews and millions of other people.
Newsweek has asked former President Trump’s office for comment.