During Thursday’s White House press briefing, Chief of Staff John Kelly made a surprise appearance. With straightforward remarks, Kelly said there are frustrations associated with his job, but he has no intention of quitting, nor does he feel that he’ll be fired any time in the near future.
“I’m not quitting today. I don’t think I’m being fired today. I am not so frustrated in this job that I am thinking of leaving,” Kelly told reporters.
He added that he didn’t have plans to fire anyone, either, but also declared, “I will tell you, this is the hardest job I’ve ever had.”
Secretary Kelly explained that he has avoided the press, preferring to become familiar with his new position as chief of staff, first and foremost. His appearance is even unique, as White House briefings typically involve cabinet secretaries or White House officials who discuss specific policies or events.
But the former Marine general stood at the podium for an extended time and even took questions from the press on a variety of issues.
He established that he is not frustrated with his job, that he brought order to the White House but does not rule it “with an iron hand,” and expressed that media coverage and misinformation is one of the biggest challenges he sees stemming from the position.
“My only frustration, with all respect to people in the room, is to come to work and read about things I allegedly said or Mr. Trump allegedly said and it’s just not true,” Kelly said. “And I mean no disrespect to you all.”
“I was not brought to this job to control anything but the flow of information to our president,” Kelly said. “I restrict no one from going to see him. I was not sent in or brought in to control him, and you should not measure my effectiveness as chief of staff on what you think I should be doing.”
Kelly said that in regards to global affairs, he’s concerned about nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea.
“In spite of what ‘someone’ reported the other day about [the] president, and I don’t think he’d mind my sharing this, what he’s said to me many, many times, and to the group often times, I hear him most[ly] say about nuclear weapons … ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could get rid of them all?’ as opposed to: ‘We need ten-times more.'”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) may have been the “someone” Kelly referenced, as the senator said in an interview that the president may be leading the country into World War III. That, along with a debunked NBC report that Sec. of State Rex Tillerson privately called the president a “moron” after an awkward Pentagon meeting, has led some to question if the president is fit for office.
There have even been suggestions that the president’s cabinet may at some point need to remove him from office.
At the briefing, Kelly emphasized he has few concerns about the country or its leadership, stood behind the president and his policies, and said he isn’t losing sleep over much, as the White House administration continues busily doing its job.
He seemed to enjoy calling on reporters and to be confident behind the podium, as the media clamored to ask the next question.
You may watch the briefing in the video below.
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