WASHINGTON: 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.
NBC News, citing eight current and former White House officials, said Kelly — a retired Marine general who served as Trump’s homeland security secretary before moving to the West Wing — had called Trump an “idiot” several times.
According to these officials, four of whom said they personally heard the insult used, Kelly portrays himself as the only person in the Trump administration “curbing the erratic urges” of the Republican president, NBC reported.
But Kelly flatly denied the report, calling it “total BS.”
“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 distributed by the White House.
“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.”
In October, NBC had reported that then secretary of state Rex Tillerson — who was fired by Trump in March — had called the president a “moron” in front of colleagues.
After the release in January of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” a tell-all book about the infighting within the administration, Tillerson defended Trump’s mental fitness.
“I’ve never questioned his mental fitness,” Tillerson told CNN. “I have no reason to question his mental fitness.”