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Trump's former chief of staff discusses border wall, journey to White House at Duke

Posted March 6, 2019 10:35 p.m. EST
Updated March 6, 2019 10:39 p.m. EST

— Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly visited Duke University Wednesday, giving people an opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of what it was like to work with President Donald Trump during the first two years of his administration.

Though Kelly left his position as chief of staff in 2018, he returned to the headlines recently over questions about security clearance.

Kelly spent a brief moment Wednesday night sharing the story about his journey to become secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and eventually becoming Trump’s chief of staff.

It started with a phone call while he was watching college football with his wife, with whom he consulted about the decision.

Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, said he’d planned on never working again.

“I said, ‘What do you think?’ and she said, ‘Well, if we’re nothing else, we’re a family. We’re certainly a family of service, so if they think they need you, you’ve got to at least give them hear,’” he said.

Kelly on Wednesday night also addressed talks of the border wall and immigration.

Kelly and Trump’s war of words on what exactly to call the proposed wall between the U.S.-Mexico border was widely covered in the news, with Kelly calling it a barrier or fencing and Trump referring to it as a wall.

Kelly didn’t go into detail about whether he thinks a wall is necessary, but he did say he spent significant time at the southern border.

Kelly said the border wall would be one piece of an overall border security system that includes something physical, something electronic and security personnel.

When asked about the travel ban, Kelly said policies were often rolled out without going through an arduous interagency process. Near the end of Kelly's time as chief of staff, there were multiple reports that some decisions were being made without his consultation.