Gutierrez Extends 'Sincere Apologies' to John Kelly for Calling Him 'A Disgrace to the Uniform'

January 17, 2018

Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Ill.) on Wednesday apologized to White House chief of staff and retired four-star Gen. John Kelly for calling him a "disgrace to the uniform" in September.

Gutierrez told MSNBC's Katy Tur that he spoke to Kelly at a meeting that included the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday morning and apologized for denigrating his service.

"I said to the general during the meeting, Katy: 'I want to extend to you my most heartfelt and sincere apologies for ever questioning your military service, and I'm so sorry you lost your son. And I don't believe anybody should be questioning people that have lost their children in combat in service of the nation,'" Gutierrez said.

"He was very kind back to me at the end of the meeting, we shook hands, and he thanked me for my apology. And I think we're on better terms," Gutierrez added. "I think those are things that sometimes we have to do. Do I still believe that he is part of the architecture of hurting the Dreamers? Absolutely, but I think you can do one without the other."

In September, Gutierrez lambasted Kelly after the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which provides legal protections to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, or Dreamers.

"General Kelly is a hypocrite who is a disgrace to the uniform he used to wear," Gutierrez said following the announcement that DACA would be rescinded.

"The general is not a general today," Gutierrez also said, standing by his comments at that time. "He's a politician. He works for Donald Trump and now supports Donald Trump's xenophobic, racist policies, and he's carrying them out as his chief of staff. I'm not talking about him as a general; I'm talking about him as a politician."

In his interview on Wednesday, Gutierrez said he did not bring up Trump's alleged comments from last week calling Haiti and African countries "s—hole countries" when he met with Kelly, saying he did not think it would "help to bring it up." Tur pressed him on whether it was right for Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) to leak those comments in the first place if he wanted to help the DACA negotiations.

Gutierrez answered by effusively praising Durbin's work to make a deal on immigration.

"I just want to say something to Senator Durbin: thank you," Gutierrez said. "Thank you for your service, thank you for your courage, and thank you for your determination. He has been a leader and a fighter and he is working with Republicans."

Gutierrez credited Durbin with compromising in an "unprecedented" way to help Dreamers being held "hostage" by the White House. He chided Kelly for his appraisal of Durbin's proposed compromise, but he saved his strongest words for Trump, whom he called "racist" once again.

"Let's put the Dreamers first. We already know what happened. We know that we have a president that is a racist. We've got to deal with that, but we have to put the lives, the livelihood, the future of the Dreamers ahead of all our feelings," Gutierrez said.