The White House blasted President Donald Trump‘s former chief of staff John Kelly over the weekend, saying the former Marine Corps general was forced out of the administration because he simply couldn’t understand Trump’s intelligence.

“I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told CNN in a statement.

Grisham’s remarks follow comments Kelly made at the Sea Island Summit political conference over the weekend. Kelly said at the event — which was hosted by The Washington Examiner — that he had cautioned Trump before leaving the White House against hiring a “yes man” as his new chief of staff or he could risk facing impeachment.

“I said, whatever you do — and we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place — 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 conference. “Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached.”


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Kelly’s remarks appeared to allude to Mick Mulvaney‘s recent confession of Trump’s quid pro quo regarding his withholding of military aid to Ukraine in exchange for dirt on Joe BidenMulvaney first confirmed and then denied the two actions were related in comments to the press that have now placed the acting chief of staff in the spotlight as House Democrats continue their impeachment inquiry.

Trump disputed Kelly’s claim in a statement to CNN.

“John Kelly never said that, he never said anything like that,” Trump’s statement read. “If he would have said that I would have thrown him out of the office. He just wants to come back into the action like everybody else does.”

Kelly let the White House following an 18-month tenure. He resigned amid severe disagreements with several top officials, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

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