President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips correspondents" dinner, "filthy" Michelle Wolf White House Correspondents' Association: Michelle Wolf's routine "not in the spirit' of our mission Trump to meet with crew of deadly Southwest Airlines flight MORE on Monday attacked the media and touted his administration hours after NBC News reported chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE has called the president an "idiot" and caused sagging morale in the White House.
In his early days in the White House, Kelly imposed strict controls on access and the flow of information to Trump, though his direct influence has waned somewhat, aides said.
In a statement on Monday, Kelly denied the claims made in the report and reaffirmed his "incredibly candid and strong relationship" with Trump. For Kelly, the exchange underscored the reasoning behind one of his common refrains, which multiple officials described as some version of "I'm the one saving the country".
"He doesn't even understand what [the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program] is".
And during a firestorm in February over accusations of domestic abuse against then-White House staff secretary Rob Porter, Kelly wondered aloud how much more Porter would have to endure before his honor could be restored, according to three officials who were present for the comments. "We've got to save him from himself".
The officials said Kelly portrays himself to Trump administration aides as the lone bulwark against catastrophe, curbing the erratic urges of a president who has a questionable grasp on policy issues and the functions of government.
Look, I know the gossipy stuff is great, but maybe this should have been the lead?
But Kelly flatly denied the report, calling it "total BS". In another statement more than 24 hours later, Kelly said he was "shocked by the new allegations", but continued to defend Porter, who called the claims "a coordinated smear campaign".
Kelly has also reportedly made occasional remarks that disturbed female staffers, including asserting that women are more emotional than men - a claim he made in front of the president, four sources said.
It was just last July when Donald Trump picked John Kelly to replace Reince Priebus as White House Chief of Staff in a move that many believed would help stabilize the reckless behavior coming out of the White House since Trump's inauguration in January 2017.
"I don't think anybody is surprised that he and the President have had disagreements in the past", the official said.