A new book alleges former US President Donald Trump frustrated four-star general and then-White House chief-of-staff John Kelly by praising Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
The Guardian, which obtained an early copy of Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender's Frankly, We Did Win This Election, writes that during a 2018 trip to Europe, Trump told Kelly: "Well, Hitler did a lot of good things."
A "stunned" Kelly reportedly pushed back by offering Trump an abbreviated history lesson and assuring him that despite whatever short-term economic growth Germany may have seen under the rule of its far right wing, anti-immigrant, nationalist leader, the country would have been better off without all of the death Hitler left in his wake.
"You cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler," Kelly allegedly said. "You just can't."
According to Bender's book, Trump was "undeterred" by Kelly's position. A Trump spokesperson calls that allegation "totally false."
"President Trump never said this," Trump rep Liz Harrington told the Guardian. "It is made-up fake news, probably by a general who was incompetent and was fired."
Kelly served 17 months in the Trump White House before leaving his job at the start of 2019. Trump called his top aide a "great guy" after news of their split was announced.
Kelly has reportedly criticised his former boss's grasp on history, once allegedly referring to him as "the most flawed person I have ever met in my life."
Bender, who has interviewed the 45th president since his electoral defeat, attributes his reporting on Trump's alleged pro-Hitler statements to unnamed sources.
The Guardian's report claims that during their 2018 discussion, Kelly found himself reminding the president of which countries fought with the Allied forces and who sided with the Axis powers during World War II and "connected the dots from the first world war to the second world war and all of Hitler's atrocities."
Kelly is said to have struggled with Trump's "stunning disregard for history," which according to Bender, included what other top officials described to him as a "disregard for the history of any race, religion or creed."
Trump's position on white nationalist groups drew criticism following the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the former president said there were "very fine people, on both sides" of a clash involving neo-Nazis and counter-protesters.
Trump later added that neo-Nazis "should be condemned totally."
Following that controversy, the German magazine Stern ran a cover story featuring Trump draped in an American flag while giving the Nazi salute.
The 75-year-old conservative firebrand has on more than one occasion falsely claimed his Bronx-born father Fred was from Germany. Trump's grandfather, Frederich, was born in Germany and came to the US in the late 1800s.