Trump chief of staff stay­ing, chides me­dia for dis­sen­sion tack.

Trump’s chief of staff ad­mon­ishes me­dia dur­ing news con­fer­ence

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE BOYER

Amid re­ports that Pres­i­dent Trump is in­creas­ingly frus­trated and an­gry in his job per­for­mance, the White House called in the Marines on Thurs­day in the form of chief of staff John F. Kelly, who chided the me­dia for ex­ag­ger­at­ing dis­sen­sion in the West Wing and said he’s not quit­ting his new post.

Mr. Kelly, a re­tired four-star Marine gen­eral, made a sur­prise ap­pear­ance in the White House press briefing room to ad­dress the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s chal­lenges head-on. He said he shares some of the pres­i­dent’s frus­tra­tions with the me­dia.

“Although I read it all the time pretty con­sis­tently, I’m not quit­ting to­day,” Mr. Kelly told re­porters tongue-in-cheek. “I just talked to the pres­i­dent, I don’t think I’m be­ing fired to­day. I’m not so frus­trated in this job that I’m think­ing of leav­ing.”

The pres­i­dent brought in Mr. Kelly in late July from his job as Sec­re­tary of Home­land Se­cu­rity to re­place Reince Priebus, who was ousted amid staff tur­moil, turnover, leg­isla­tive losses and a widely per­ceived lack of dis­ci­pline in the West Wing. Since then, Mr. Kelly has moved to con­trol the flow of in­for­ma­tion to the pres­i­dent, a tra­di­tional role of the chief of staff as gate­keeper.

“He’s one of the finest peo­ple I have ever had the priv­i­lege to know,” Mr. Trump said Thurs­day. “We are deeply for­tu­nate that he is now here at the White House as our chief of staff.”

Mr. Kelly’s calm on-cam­era ap­pear­ance came at a mo­ment when the pres­i­dent is in the midst of nu­mer­ous feuds, on so­cial me­dia or in per­son. In re­cent days he’s bat­tled with Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Chair­man Bob Corker, the Ten­nessee Re­pub­li­can who said Mr. Trump re­quires “adult day care;” with the mayor of hur­ri­cane-rav­aged San Juan, Puerto Rico, who ac­cused the pres­i­dent of “geno­cide” for the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s al­legedly slow dis­as­ter re­sponse; with NBC News (Mr. Trump sug­gested the govern­ment re­voke li­cens­ing over its “dis­gust­ing fake news;”) and with Sec­re­tary of State Rex W. Tiller­son, who re­port­edly called Mr. Trump a “mo­ron” and prompted a barb from the pres­i­dent that he would win an IQ test between the two.

Me­dia re­ports, cit­ing mostly anony­mous sources, have por­trayed Mr. Trump as ready to blow his stack and in the grip of dark moods as his leg­isla­tive agenda has stalled and he en­dorsed the los­ing can­di­date in an Alabama Sen­ate race. Van­ity Fair quoted a pres­i­den­tial friend say­ing Mr. Trump has griped that he “hates ev­ery­body in the White House.”

Against that chaotic tableau, Mr. Kelly sought to present a pic­ture of low-key or­der.

But Mr. Kelly ac­knowl­edged that Mr. Trump, whom he called “a man of ac­tion,” is of­ten frus­trated with Wash­ing­ton.

“The Con­gress has been frus­trat­ing to him,” Mr. Kelly said. “Of course, our govern­ment is de­signed to be slow, and it is. I would say his great frus­tra­tion is the process that he now finds him­self, be­cause in his view the so­lu­tions are ob­vi­ous.”

He said the at­tributes that at­tracted many vot­ers to Mr. Trump — a Wash­ing­ton out­sider who is a busi­ness­man — also lead to some of the pres­i­dent’s ex­as­per­a­tion with the job.

“Whether it’s tax cuts and tax re­form, health care, in­fra­struc­ture pro­grams, strength­en­ing our mil­i­tary — to him, th­ese all seems like ob­vi­ous things that need to be done to pro­tect the Amer­i­can peo­ple, bring jobs back,” Mr. Kelly said. “Th­ese are all the things that he sees as vi­tal to pro­tect the Amer­i­can peo­ple or to ad­vance the Amer­i­can econ­omy or what not. And the process is so slow and so hard some­times to deal with.”

He said he shares some of Mr. Trump’s vex­a­tion about the me­dia.

“It is astounding to me how much is mis­re­ported,” Mr. Kelly said, ad­vis­ing re­porters to “de­velop some bet­ter sources.”

Asked about the pres­i­dent’s feud with Mr. Corker, whom Mr. Trump called fool­ish, the chief of staff said, “He’s a straight­for­ward guy, the pres­i­dent is. When mem­bers of Con­gress say things that are un­fair or crit­i­cal, the pres­i­dent has a right to de­fend him­self.”

While crit­ics have called for some­one in the White House to con­trol Mr. Trump’s Twit­ter ac­count, Mr. Kelly said that’s not his job.

“I was not brought to this job to con­trol any­thing but the flow of in­for­ma­tion to our pres­i­dent, so that he can make the best de­ci­sions,” Mr. Kelly said. “He’s a de­ci­sive guy. He’s a very thought­ful man. I can guar­an­tee to you that he is now pre­sented with op­tions — well thought-out op­tions. Those op­tions are dis­cussed in de­tail with his team. And then he comes up with the right de­ci­sion.”

“This is the most im­por­tant job I’ve ever had,” Mr. Kelly said. “I’m not frus­trated. This is re­ally, re­ally hard work run­ning the United States of Amer­ica. There [were] an aw­ful lot of things that, in my view, were kicked down the road that have come home to roost pretty much right now, that have to be dealt with.”


“It is astounding to me how much is mis­re­ported,” said White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly. He told re­porters to “de­velop some bet­ter sources.”

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