John Kelly said he would have served Hillary Clinton if she had been elected president and asked for his help

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump and John Kelly at a cybersecurity meeting in January 2017.
  • Former White House chief of staff John Kelly said he would have served former secretary of state Hillary Clinton if she had been elected president in 2016 and had requested his service.
  • Kelly, a four-star Marine Corps general, came out of retirement to serve in President Donald Trump cabinet and then as chief of staff.
  • “I don’t think that John was jumping into the political fray with both boots,” retired four-star Gen. James Conway said to INSIDER in January, adding that Kelly was merely “seeing another opportunity to serve the country.”

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly said he would have served former secretary of state Hillary Clinton if she had been elected president in 2016 and had requested his service.

“If Hillary Clinton had called me, I would have done it,” Kelly reportedly said at a lecture at Duke University in North Carolina on Wednesday.

Kelly, a four-star Marine Corps general, came out of retirement at Trump’s request to serve as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Trump later had him replace Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, in July 2017. Kelly was seen as an arbiter of the chaos that ensued within the White House, a claim he downplayed throughout his tenure.

Kelly told his audience that prior to Trump officially offering him the position, Priebus had called him to set up a meeting. “I had no desire, no plan of any kind, to ever work again,” Kelly said to the audience’s laughter.

After discussing the possibility with his family, Kelly agreed that they were a “family of service.”

Retired four-star Gen. James Conway, the 34th commandant of the Marine Corps, concurred with the assessment.

“I don’t think that John was jumping into the political fray with both boots,” Conway said to INSIDER in January, adding that Kelly was merely “seeing another opportunity to serve the country.”

“He didn’t throw his hat in the ring,” Conway added. “You didn’t see him campaigning for either side.”

Kelly eventually left the position in December. His rocky tenure was marked by numerous reports of a rift with other senior White House officials, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Trump’s cabinet temporarily appeared to be stocked with numerous high-ranking Marine Corps generals, which included Defence Secretary James Mattis and chairman of the Joint Chiefs Joseph Dunford. Trump boasted about the generals on numerous occassions during his presidency, a claim that has somewhat died down after Mattis and Kelly left his administration.

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