President Donald Trump gave a vote of confidence to his chief of staff John Kelly despite persistent rumors that he may be fired or move on to another job, according to New York magazine interview released this week.
In the interview, Trump praised Kelly, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general who first worked in the administration as secretary of Homeland Security. He took office in July 2017, replacing Reince Priebus, Trump’s initial chief of staff.
At the time, then-House Speaker Paul Ryan, a close friend of Priebus, said that he had a tense relationship with Trump and rumors swirled that the president forced him out of the position, according to The Guardian.
According to a Wall Street Journal article in March, Kelly reportedly told colleagues that he feared he would be sent packing after Trump jettisoned Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.
But Trump expressed pleasure with his chief of staff in the New York magazine interview.
“General Kelly’s doing a very good job,” Trump told the magazine, pointing to the appointing of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court and other White House successes. “We have a very good relationship. The White House is running very, very smoothly.
“We’ve had a big week. We just got a Supreme Court justice on the bench. We have the USMCA (U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement), meaning the NAFTA replacement, and many other things. We had a great meeting with North Korea. It was a great meeting. The secretary of state’s coming just in 10 minutes,” he continued.
The magazine pointed out that there had been nearly 1,000 Nexis results for the term “John Kelly” and “fired” over the past 14 months, suggesting the high interest in news articles and sources on if Kelly will suffer the same fate as Tillerson and others who have left the Trump administration less than two years in.
“There’s always chatter about who could replace Kelly,” the magazine wrote. “This has been unchanged by the White House’s decision to claim that Trump has asked him to remain in the job through 2020. Trying to predict the outcome is a fool’s errand.”
Kelly said in the interview, though, that he does not see the chaos and tension others have reported on about the White House. Bob Woodward’s book on the Trump administration, titled Fear, described “a jaw-droppingly dysfunctional White House,” The Guardian wrote last month.
“Do we disagree sometimes? We do,” Kelly told the magazine about his relationship with Trump. “My job is to make sure that that man has all of the information available from whatever source so that he makes the best decision, and then, when that decision is made, my job is to then implement that decision.
“There is, to the best of my knowledge, no chaos in this building. We’ve gotten rid of a few bad actors, but everyone works very, very well together,” he continued.