Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly likes to call President Trump an “idiot,” has averred that women are more emotional than men, and, most alarmingly, had to persuade the president not to withdraw all troops from the Korean Peninsula on a whim, NBC reported on Monday.
The report comes amid months of tensions between Kelly and Trump. The general, who has largely failed in his task to instill order at the White House since he replaced Reince Priebus last summer, has fallen far out of favor with Trump, and is much less influential than he once was on policy matters. Whether NBC’s sources spoke to the outlet in hopes of pushing Kelly out for good is unclear — some officials told NBC he’d be gone by July — but the president is unlikely to react kindly to any questioning of his all-powerful brain. For his part, Kelly has denied the story, calling it “total BS” and “another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump.”
Some of the story’s most noteworthy revelations, below:
Kelly Thinks He Needs to Save Trump From His Own Stupidity
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. He has referred to Trump as “an idiot” multiple times to underscore his point, according to four officials who say they’ve witnessed the comments.
Three White House spokespeople said they don’t believe it’s accurate that Kelly called the president an “idiot,” adding that none of them has ever heard him do that or otherwise use that word.
As a president, it’s always a good sign when multiple members of your staff have been known to insult your intelligence in no uncertain terms.
Kelly Is From the Mad Men School of Gender Relations
Current and former White House officials said Kelly has at times made remarks that have rattled female staffers. Kelly has told aides multiple times that women are more emotional than men, including at least once in front of the president, four current and former officials said.
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. He also questioned why Porter’s ex-wives wouldn’t just move on based on the information he said he had about his marriages, the officials said.
Yes, this does sound bad. But how to cover for Kelly while making the White House sounding like a completely inhospitable place for women? Well…
The White House spokespeople said they haven’t seen Kelly have a negative effect on the morale of women staffers. If anything, they said during meetings Kelly is the “bigger gentleman” who steps in when aides use foul language to note “a lady is present” and similarly says he shouldn’t use foul language in front of a lady if he’s used an expletive. The spokespeople, who would not speak for the record, said it’s possible Kelly may have said women are more emotional than men, with one of them agreeing that “generally speaking, women are more emotional than men.”
Unlike President Trump, who would never be driven by anything besides cold logic. Speaking of which …
Trump Almost Withdrew All Combat Troops From South Korea
He has also pushed back against the president on some foreign policy and military issues, current and former White House officials said.
In one heated exchange between the two men before February’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, Kelly strongly — and successfully — dissuaded Trump from ordering the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula, according to two officials. 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.”
Wait, what??? If this terrifying anecdote is true, Kelly deserves at least some credit for preventing utter political chaos over the last few months.
Kelly Thinks Trump Doesn’t Know What DACA Is
Kelly held a series of meetings in his office with White House officials during negotiations with lawmakers on funding for the president’s border wall and a resolution on a program — known as DACA — that allows some people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the country, according to four officials who either attended or were briefed on the meetings.
He often used the settings to express concern that Trump would agree to a deal that’s not hardline enough on immigration and criticized the president’s knowledge of the issues to underscore his point, the officials said.
“He doesn’t even understand what DACA is. He’s an idiot,” Kelly said in one meeting, according to two officials who were present. “We’ve got to save him from himself.”
DACA fact-check: true.
And now we wait for President Trump’s no-doubt cool-headed reaction to these disclosures. Start refreshing twitter.com at your leisure.