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.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“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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