White House Chief of Staff John Kelly firmly denied a report Monday that he called President Donald Trump an "idiot" in front of other staff - the latest suggestion of possible tensions in Trump's inner circle.
News reported Monday that Kelly has called the president an "idiot" several times, citing "eight current and former White House officials". Four unnamed sources said that the comment was, in fact, said.
"I spend more time with the president than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship", said Kelly in a statement, according to NBC News. "He knows about my position and we both know that's utter nonsense", - said in a statement. Aides say his direct influence has waned somewhat.
Kelly's public image as a retired four-star general "instilling discipline on a chaotic White House and an impulsive president belies what they describe as the undisciplined and indiscreet approach he's employed as chief of staff", NBC News reported, renewing the all-is-chaos theme familiar to readers of mainstream media. And Kelly suffered a significant hit for mishandling the firing of a senior White House aide accused of assault by his former wives.
Kelly, himself, denied the allegations and called them "total BS". "He'll say it and you think, 'That is not what you should be saying'".
However, White House spokespeople told NBC that Kelly hasn't had a negative effect on female staffers, though they admitted Kelly possibly did say women were more emotional; one of those spokespeople also agreed and said, "Generally speaking, women are more emotional than men".
In October, NBC had reported that then secretary of state Rex Tillerson - who was sacked by Trump in March - had called the president a "moron" in front of colleagues.
The change would solve two problems at once: how to quickly mute the Washington-wide conflicts over his previous VA nominee Dr. Ronny Jackson, and what to do with a chief of staff who has become a less effective manager and has reportedly called him "an idiot" in private.
"Ah, as is standard operating procedure for a new president, the White House medical unit took possession of the president's medical records", Sanders replied.
Officials: Kelly has "eroded morale" in the White House by making comments disparaging Trump's intelligence and portraying himself as the savior of the nation. 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.