White House chief of staff John Kelly is denying a report from NBC News that he called U.S. President Donald Trump an “idiot.”
“I spend more time with the president than anyone else, and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship,” Kelly said Monday in a statement issued by the White House.
“He always knows where I stand, and he and I both know this story is total BS,” he said. “I am committed to the president, his agenda and our country.”
NBC reported Monday that Kelly has on multiple occasions criticized Trump’s knowledge on issues such as immigration and has cast himself as protecting the country from Trump’s impulses. The report added that Trump was growing tired of Kelly’s attitude.
NBC quoted unnamed sources as saying Kelly was known to “make fun” more generally at what the chief of staff saw as the president’s “lack of knowledge about policy and government.”
The chief of staff, who oversaw immigration enforcement as Homeland Security secretary, believed that Trump was prepared to make too many concessions to Democrats because he did not understand the issue.
“He doesn’t even understand what DACA is. He’s an idiot,” Kelly said in one meeting, two officials who said they were present told NBC News. “We’ve got to save him from himself.”
The report, despite Kelly’s denial, is likely to renew questions about Kelly’s future in the White House. The retired Marine Corps general, who was brought on board last summer to instill order and discipline in the West Wing, has been losing clout as Trump has tired of his style.
David Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Akron in Ohio appeared to give credence to the concerns over Kelly’s future in the White House.
“The knives are out for Kelly — many of them. #POTUS soured on Kelly several weeks ago. He won’t survive in job much longer. Probably days, maybe weeks. Kelly is dead man walking,” Cohen tweeted Monday.