Kelly denies calling Trump an ‘idiot’

May 2, 2018

Last May, when the Quinnipiac University Poll asked U.S. adults for “the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump,” 39% of respondents said, “idiot.” Now, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is in hot water, based on reports that he said the same thing.

Indeed, leaks from four administration sources—posted on May 1 by NBC News—imply that Kelly portrays himself as the lone bulwark against catastrophe, “curbing the erratic urges of a president who has a questionable grasp on policy issues and the functions of government.”

Those same White House officials reportedly claim that Kelly has referred to Trump as “an idiot” multiple times to underscore his point.

Kelly called the allegations “total BS,” NBC notes, providing the full statement issued by the chief of staff right after the rumors broke: “I spend more time with the president than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship,” said Kelly in the statement. “He always knows where I stand and he and I both know this story is total BS. I am committed to the president, his agenda, and our country. This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes.”

In addition, the network reports, three White House spokespeople said they don’t believe it’s accurate that Kelly called the president an “idiot,” adding that none of them has ever heard him do that or otherwise use that word.

However, Kelly is not the first administration official to draw fire for his comments on the POTUS. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson never fully denied having called President Trump “a moron” in front of colleagues.

Tillerson was recently replaced by former CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Now, NBC News reports, some current and former White House officials said they expect Kelly to leave by July, his one-year mark. But others say it’s anyone’s guess.

Research contact: contact.nbcnews@nbcuni.co

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