Kelly denies report he called Trump an idiot

White House chief of staff John Kelly personally denied calling President Donald Trump an "idiot" in an afternoon conversation with the commander in chief, relaying nearly the same statement in his face-to-face talk with the President as the one he released publicly, according to an administration official.

Posted: May 1, 2018 7:25 PM
Updated: May 1, 2018 7:25 PM

White House chief of staff John Kelly personally denied calling President Donald Trump an "idiot" in an afternoon conversation with the commander in chief, relaying nearly the same statement in his face-to-face talk with the President as the one he released publicly, according to an administration official.

An NBC report published Monday claimed, among other things, that Kelly had said during an immigration-related meeting that he needed to "save (Trump) from himself" while insulting the President's intelligence by calling him an "idiot."

"I spend more time with the President than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship. He always knows where I stand and he and I both know this story is total BS," Kelly said in a statement. "I am committed to the President, his agenda, and our country. This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration's many successes."

Trump tweeted his own denial as well, calling the stories "false."

The situation is similar to when reports surfaced that then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a "moron."

But the White House official pointed out a big difference between the Kelly incident and Tillerson -- Kelly immediately denied the report and denounced it to the President's face. Tillerson declined to do so, simply saying he wouldn't play that Washington game.

Tensions brewing

Tensions between Kelly and Trump have been brewing for weeks if not months. Another White House official said the tensions don't seem any more urgent or dramatic now, but acknowledged that this could accelerate Kelly's departure.

"The President hates reading these stories," an official said. "He hates it."

Officials have long believed it's just a matter of when, rather than if, Kelly would be fired or pushed aside. The report on Monday capped off weeks of what sources have described as a growing disconnect between Kelly and Trump.

Some have pointed to a controversy earlier this year over former staff secretary Rob Porter, who was ousted amid a scandal involving allegations that he abused two ex-wives, as a turning point in terms of Kelly's influence.

One source familiar with the situation said Trump was rankled by the way Kelly handled the Porter situation; the chief of staff initially attempted to defend Porter against the allegation until a photograph of Porter's ex-wife's blackened eye surfaced and sparked outrage.

'Unhinged'

Multiple sources have told CNN that Trump is increasingly frustrated with Kelly, and a senior administration official said Monday that the feeling goes both ways.

Kelly told senior national security officials in what appeared to be a "moment of frustration" in the last month that he believed the President was becoming "unhinged," according to the senior administration official.

Kelly referred to Trump as "unhinged" during a meeting with the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and senior National Security Council officials, the senior administration official added.

Kelly's comment came as the officials deliberated on the future of the US effort in Syria, following Trump's off-the-cuff comments saying he was determined to get US troops out of the country.

In another example of Kelly being unhappy, one official said Kelly used "salty language" about Trump when Trump wasn't thrilled with picking Kirstjen Nielsen to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Another senior administration official said while Trump and his chief of staff have had disagreements, Kelly has never used that kind of language to criticize Trump.

"I don't think anybody is surprised that he and the President have had disagreements in the past," the official said.

Terre Haute
Broken Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 65°
Robinson
Broken Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 65°
Indianapolis
Overcast
56° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 56°
Rockville
Scattered Clouds
62° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 62°
Casey
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 64°
Brazil
Broken Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 65°
Marshall
Broken Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 65°
Showers Today!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Support group aims to prevent suicide among first responders

Image

Monday: Showers, cooler. High: 64

Image

Sunday Evening Forecast

Image

Woman remembers national hero

Image

Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra Concert

Image

Athletes clean up Wabashiki

Image

High speed police chase ends in Vermillion county with gunfire

Image

Farms open for Fall season

Image

Annual Fall-out Ride

Image

'Cruisin' for Cruisers' car show

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 290373

Reported Deaths: 8845
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1436345210
DuPage17471561
Lake16892487
Will13984378
Kane13092326
St. Clair6607190
Winnebago5959149
Madison5698136
Champaign470320
McHenry4581118
Peoria349450
McLean327923
Rock Island299576
Kankakee274177
Unassigned2537244
Sangamon241145
Kendall200925
Tazewell177425
LaSalle171257
DeKalb157938
Macon154444
Coles146430
Williamson140145
Jackson126124
Clinton116920
Boone112523
Adams112310
Randolph93911
Effingham8702
Vermilion7704
Whiteside74320
Ogle7106
Monroe67416
Knox6703
Grundy6695
Henry6665
Morgan66123
Bureau64111
Jefferson61138
Marion5540
Macoupin5447
Christian53911
Franklin5393
Stephenson5236
Union51524
McDonough48015
Logan4641
Crawford4503
Woodford4246
Fayette4183
Cass39811
Livingston3956
Jersey39215
Shelby3904
Montgomery37213
Lee3711
Iroquois36519
Perry35015
Saline3404
Warren3322
Bond3285
Douglas3127
Wayne2805
Jo Daviess2632
Lawrence2562
Carroll2305
Greene22711
Cumberland2175
Hancock2173
Moultrie2143
Jasper2119
Washington2111
Richland2095
Pulaski1801
Fulton1760
Clark1732
White1680
Johnson1560
Clay1540
Wabash1543
Mason1471
Piatt1400
Mercer1395
Pike1281
Menard1251
De Witt1221
Edgar1138
Massac1122
Ford1065
Marshall1040
Alexander811
Scott780
Gallatin732
Hamilton682
Henderson660
Edwards630
Brown610
Calhoun600
Putnam570
Stark552
Schuyler500
Hardin400
Pope291
Out of IL20

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 117450

Reported Deaths: 3580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21403766
Lake10618323
Elkhart6667111
St. Joseph6576110
Allen6292203
Hamilton4909109
Vanderburgh371931
Hendricks2747123
Monroe262736
Tippecanoe252313
Johnson2338124
Clark223657
Porter217647
Delaware198562
Cass19549
Vigo184327
Madison168975
LaPorte147441
Floyd138963
Warrick134440
Howard131863
Kosciusko124817
Bartholomew117957
Marshall101224
Dubois99119
Boone98646
Grant93334
Hancock93243
Noble92532
Henry80926
Jackson7689
Wayne76814
Morgan72938
Daviess67728
Shelby67729
Dearborn66528
LaGrange63911
Clinton60914
Harrison58724
Putnam58112
Gibson5305
Knox5259
Lawrence51529
Montgomery51121
DeKalb48711
White48614
Decatur45839
Miami4383
Greene42735
Fayette42313
Jasper3992
Steuben3877
Scott38111
Posey3400
Sullivan33812
Jennings31612
Franklin31125
Ripley3038
Clay3025
Orange28824
Whitley2796
Carroll27713
Adams2743
Wabash2718
Washington2691
Starke2677
Wells2654
Spencer2593
Jefferson2483
Huntington2453
Fulton2412
Tipton22822
Perry22113
Randolph2207
Jay1880
Newton17311
Owen1711
Martin1680
Pike1621
Rush1574
Vermillion1300
Fountain1282
Blackford1203
Pulaski1131
Crawford1080
Brown1043
Parke1032
Benton870
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren401
Unassigned0226