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Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Donald Trump
While on a trip to Europe to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, Donald Trump reportedly said that reviled dictator Adolf Hitler "did a lot of good things," a new book alleges.
In his upcoming book, Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, The Wall Street Journal's Michael C. Bender reportedly writes that Trump, now 75, made the remark to his then-chief of staff, John Kelly.
According to an excerpt released in The Guardian, Kelly responded by chiding Trump, with sources telling Bender the chief of staff "told the president that he was wrong, but Trump was undeterred." Trump denied the claims through a spokesperson.
The book further details how Trump cited Germany's economic recovery in the 1930s as an example of his claim, to which Kelly "reminded the president which countries were on which side during the conflict."
Bender claims in the book, according to the Guardian excerpt, that Kelly continued to push back and said that German residents would have "been better off poor than subjected to the Nazi genocide." Hitler, of course, led the Nazi party and orchestrated the Holocaust, during which millions were murdered.
In the excerpt of Bender's book, Kelly, a former Marine Corps general, allegedly also told the former president during the exchange: "You cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler."
Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington disputed the claims in a statement published on Twitter Wednesday.
"The report from the Michael Bender book is totally false," Harrington wrote. "President Trump never said this. It was probably made up by an incompetent general who was fired."
Kelly, 71, left his position in 2018, with Trump telling reporters at the time: "John Kelly will be leaving — I don't know if I can say retiring — but he's a great guy. John Kelly will be leaving at the end of the year."
Listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on Michael C. Bender's new book Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost.
The relationship between Trump and Kelly was fraught as Kelly, like many White House officials, often engaged in bitter battles while trying to navigate his relationship with the president and others in the administration. According to CNN, the two men were no longer speaking to one another by the end of Kelly's tenure.
Trump has a long history of praising authoritarian leaders, describing some of history's worst dictators and strongmen in glowing terms.
In 2018, after being confronted by Fox News' Brett Baier with the fact that North Korea's Kim Jong Un is "clearly executing people," Trump replied nonchalantly: "He's a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, tough people, and you take it over from your father—if you could do that at 27-years old, I mean, that's 1 in 10,000 that could do that."
Trump has also repeatedly praised and never publicly criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin, the strongman leader of a country where vocal opponents are mysteriously poisoned or die.
Bender's book will be released July 13.