President TrumpDonald John TrumpBirx says she’s hopeful about coronavirus vaccine but urges people to ‘do the right thing today’ McGahn argued Kushner’s security clearance should be downgraded: book Wisconsin governor urges Trump not to visit Kenosha: ‘I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing’ MORE offered the position of FBI director to then-Homeland Security Secretary John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE in exchange for a guarantee of personal loyalty, New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt writes in his upcoming book, “Donald Trump v. The United States.”
“Kelly immediately realized the problem with Trump’s request for loyalty, and he pushed back on the president’s demand,” Schmidt writes, according to an excerpt obtained by Axios. “Kelly said that he would be loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law, but he refused to pledge his loyalty to Trump.”
The incident reportedly occurred shortly after Trump fired FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTale of two FBI cases: Clinton got warned, Trump got investigated Comey: Trump, Barr damaged Justice Department Comey on Clinton tweet: ‘I regret only being involved in the 2016 election’ MORE, who has claimed the president made a similar demand of him.
“In addition to illustrating how Trump viewed the role and independence of senior officials who work for him, the president’s demand for loyalty tracked with Comey’s experience with Trump,” Schmidt writes, according to Axios.
Kelly reportedly said having to tell the president no was “like French kissing a chainsaw.”
“Kelly has told others that Trump wanted to behave like an authoritarian and repeatedly had to be restrained and told what he could and could not legally do,” Schmidt writes. “Aside from questions of the law, Kelly has told others that one of the most difficult tasks he faced with Trump was trying to stop him from pulling out of NATO — a move that Trump has repeatedly threatened but never made good on, which would have been a seismic breach of American alliances and an extraordinary gift to Putin.”
Schmidt also claims members of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN’s Toobin warns McCabe is in ‘perilous condition’ with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill’s 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s team regularly made requests of then-White House counsel Don McGahn’s lawyer, Bill Burck, to ask what Trump was telling McGahn in private discussions, according to Axios. During that period, Trump was discussing prosecuting 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChristie dismisses post-convention poll that found no increase for Trump Dates — and developments — to watch as we enter the home stretch Biden faces calls to be more active with media MORE and Comey, leading McGahn to write a memo advising against it, according to Axios.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment on the allegations in Schmidt’s book.