The White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, told reporters Saturday that former chief of staff John Kelly "was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great president."
Grisham's remarks came after Kelly attended a political conference hosted by the Washington Examiner, and suggested that President Donald Trump would not be facing a House impeachment inquiry if Kelly were still in his former job.
Kelly worked in the White House between July 2017 and and January 2019. Before that, he served as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
On Saturday, Kelly said he regretted resigning as chief of staff. He added that he gave Trump advice on hiring his successor.
"I said, 'Whatever you do' — and we were till in the process of trying to find someone to take my place — I said, 'Whatever you do, don't hire a yes man, someone who won't tell you the truth. Don't do that. Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached,'" Kelly said.
Kelly added that he had "an awful lot of, to say the least, second thoughts about leaving."
He continued: "It pains me to see what's going on because I believe if I was still there or someone like me was there, he would not be kind of, all over the place."
Shortly after Kelly's remarks, Trump himself denied that Kelly discussed the possibility of impeachment with him.
"John Kelly never said that, he never said anything like that. If he would have said that I would have thrown him out of the office. He just wants to come back into the action like everyone else does," Trump said, according to CNN.