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Adolf Hitler “did a lot of good things”, former US president Donald Trump reportedly said during his trip to Europe to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, according to a new book.
Mr Trump is said to have made these remarks to his then-chief of staff John Kelly in 2018, when the retired marine corps general was telling the former president “which countries were on which side during the conflict”, wrote Michael Bender, in his new book ‘Frankly, We Did Win This Election’: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost.
Mr Kelly was connecting “the dots from the First World War to the Second World War and all of Hitler’s atrocities”, according to Bender.
Bender, who covers the White House for the Wall Street Journal, wrote that it was during these impromptu history lessons from Mr Kelly that Mr Trump remarked: “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.” The remarks reportedly “stunned” Mr Kelly, according to excerpts published by the Guardian on Wednesday.
The former president denied saying these things about Hitler, Bender wrote. His sources, however, told him that even after Mr Kelly informed the former president that “he was wrong”, Mr Trump was “undeterred” and emphasised the economic recovery of Germany under Hitler during the 1930s.
“Kelly pushed back again,” Bender writes, “and argued that the German people would have been better off poor than subjected to the Nazi genocide”.
He told Mr Trump that even if his claim about economic recovery were correct, he still “cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler”, according to Bender in his book. “You just can’t.”
Mr Trump’s 2018 trip to Europe also ran into controversy after he canceled the commemoration in France for US soldiers and marines killed during the First World War. While the White House at the time said the rain made it impossible to arrange transport, the last-minute cancelation prompted widespread criticism for dishonouring US servicemen.
Mr Kelly, who left the White House at the beginning of 2019, reportedly told friends that Mr Trump’s “dishonesty” was “astounding” and “pathetic”.
“The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me (sic),” the retired Marine general told friends, according to a report by CNN. “The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it’s more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life,” he allegedly said.
In the book, Bender said Mr Kelly tried his best to work around Mr Trump’s “stunning disregard for history”.
“Senior officials described his understanding of slavery, Jim Crow or the Black experience in general post-civil war as vague to nonexistent,” he wrote. “But Trump’s indifference to Black history was similar to his disregard for the history of any race, religion or creed.”