Trump, Schmidt writes according to Axios, said, “Kelly needed to be loyal to him, and only him.”
Kelly, who went on to serve as White House chief of staff, “immediately realized the problem with Trump’s request for loyalty, and he pushed back on the President’s demand,” Schmidt’s book states, according to Axios.
Instead, Kelly said that he would be “loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law, but he refused to pledge his loyalty to Trump.”
At the time, Comey was leading the investigation into whether Trump campaign members colluded with Russians who hacked the 2016 election. The Trump administration said it was getting rid of Comey because of the way he handled the Hillary Clinton email probe.
Mueller documented extensive evidence in his final report in March 2019 that Trump tried to obstruct the Russia investigation in multiple ways, and declined to make a charging decision. A Justice Department policy said that a sitting president could not be indicted.
According to Axios, Schmidt writes that “throughout Kelly’s time working directly with Trump, Kelly was repeatedly struck by how Trump failed to understand how those who worked for him — like Kelly and other top former generals — had interest in being loyal not to him, but to the institutions of American democracy.”