White House Chief of Staff John Kelly says he's not going anywhere anytime soon.
Reports on his imminent departure are greatly exaggerated, the retired general said Thursday.
'I would just offer to you that although I read it all the time pretty consistently, I'm not quitting today,' he said during a surprise appearance at a White House news conference. 'I don't believe, and I just talked to the president, I don't think I'm being fired today.'
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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly says he's not going anywhere anytime soon
Kelly and Trump have been at odds, reports have said, over restructuring in the West Wing and the former military man's desire to bring order to the White House.
Reports have claimed that Kelly is miserable as White House chief of staff and frustrated with the president.
'I'm not so frustrated in this job that I'm thinking of leaving,' Kelly said in opening remarks at the White House's daily press briefing.
Upon further reflection the senior White House official said, 'I would tell you, this is the hardest job I've ever had. This is in my view the most important job I've ever had.
'It is not the best job I've ever had. The best job I've ever had, as I've said many times, is when I was an enlisted marine sergeant infantryman,' Kelly said. 'That was the best job I ever had. So unless things change, I'm not quitting, I'm not getting fired. And I don't think I'll fire anyone tomorrow.'
At least one staffer close to Kelly is leaving the White House, his deputy Kirstjen Nielson. But that's because she's being promoted. President Trump is nominating her to Kelly's former position at the Department of Homeland Security. She'll be the next DHS secretary if she passes a stress test in the Senate.
Formally announcing her appointment this afternoon in the East Room of the White House Trump praised her predecessor.
Trump referred to Kelly first as 'the great four star general.'
'A marine. He's a proud marine. He's done a great job,' Trump said. 'He's one of the finest people I have ever had the privilege to know.'
After a summer of West Wing chaos that resulted in the departures of the previous White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Communications Director Mike Dubke and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Trump brought Kelly in to restore order.
One of Kelly's first acts as chief of staff was the ousting of Anthony Scaramucci, the short-lived White House communications staffer who colorfully demeaned his colleagues in a call with a reporter. Steve Bannon, the president's chief strategist was next.
The president's longtime personal aide, Keith Schiller, left of his own volition, reportedly because of tensions with Kelly.
Trump is said to have chaffed at the way Kelly clamped down on Oval Office access for people close to him. Kelly has reportedly been riled by the president's tweeting.
When Trump called North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un 'Rocket Man' in his first speech to the UN, Kelly could be seen face palming in the audience. The White House has suggested that Kelly was sighing out of exhaustion, not reacting to the president.
Trump referred to Kelly first as 'the great four star general' today as he filled his position at DHS. 'A marine. He's a proud marine. He's done a great job,' Trump said. 'He's one of the finest people I have ever had the privilege to know'
Reacting to a question in the White House briefing about Trump's tweeting, Kelly said, 'It’s funny, I read in the paper you all know you write it, that I’ve been a failure at controlling the president. Or a failure at controlling his tweeting and all that.
'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,' Kelly said. 'I have found that Mr. Trump, from the day I met him, is a decisive guy, he’s a very thoughtful man, I should say, he takes information in from every avenue he can receive it.'
Kelly denied reports that he was blocking staff from meeting with the president.
'I restrict no one by the way from going in to see him,' he said. 'But when we go into see him now, rather than onesies and twosies. We go in and help him collectively understand what he needs to understand to make these vital decisions.'
His effectiveness as chief of staff shouldn't be measured by his ability to 'control' Trump or 'by what you think I should be doing,' Kelly contended.
'The fact is, I can guarantee 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,' Kelly said. 'But it’s always always focused on protecting America and advancing America’s economic development, jobs for America, safety for Americans.'