Trump's New Chief of Staff: Women in Combat Would 'Lower Standards'

John Kelly

In a dramatic week of politics even for the Trump administration, Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus was unceremoniously kicked to the curb and Homeland Security Chief John Kelly was named the new White House Chief of Staff. A retired four-star general in the Marine Corps, Kelly was in charge overseeing some of Trump’s thornier proclamations, including suspending refugees from entering the United States and instituting the Muslim ban, according to Time

While Kelly, 67, was a standout in not endorsing Trump prior to working for him, even going so far as to call the 2016 election a “cesspool of domestic politics,” he steps into the Chief of Staff job with a bit of a problematic history. He was critical of President Barack Obama’s plan to open combat positions to women, saying it would “lower standards" at a Pentagon press conference in January. 

“There will be great pressure, whether it’s 12 months from now, four years from now, because the question will be asked whether we’ve let women into these other roles, why aren’t they staying in those other roles?” Kelly said. “If we don’t change standards, it will be very, very difficult to have any numbers — any real numbers — come into the infantry, or the Rangers or the SEALs, but that’s their business.” 

He also broke with Obama’s stance on shuttering the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, and, most alarmingly, he defended force feedings of those on hunger strikes there as humane. 

A former congressional liaison for the Marines, senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and head of the United States Southern Command, Kelly is also a Gold Star parent. His son died in Afghanistan in 2010 when he stepped on a land mine, according to Time.

While naming Kelly as his Chief of Staff, Trump called him a “great leader” while simply referring to Priebus as a “good man.” 

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