White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly on Monday denied he said President Trump is an “idiot,” calling an NBC News story that said he had done so “total BS.”
Kelly’s statement came about 45 minutes after NBC News published a report that described a number of fights between Trump and his embattled chief of staff. The outlet reported that Kelly often tells senior aides that they have to save the president from himself and his impulses — and that Trump does not understand policy.
“He doesn’t even understand what DACA is. He’s an idiot,” Kelly told White House aides, according NBC News, which cites two White House officials present for the meeting. DACA refers to a program that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
“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 released by the White House press office in response to the story. “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.”
The Washington Post has not independently confirmed that Kelly called Trump an “idiot,” but the chief of staff has occasionally referred to the president in derisive terms and has threatened to quit, current and former White House aides said.