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Kelly denies report he called Trump an idiot

White House chief of staff John Kelly personally denied calling President Donald Trump an "idiot" in an afternoon conversation with the commander in chief, relaying nearly the same statement in his face-to-face talk with the President as the one he released publicly, according to an administration official.

Posted: May 1, 2018 6:14 PM
Updated: May 1, 2018 6:25 PM

White House chief of staff John Kelly personally denied calling President Donald Trump an "idiot" in an afternoon conversation with the commander in chief, relaying nearly the same statement in his face-to-face talk with the President as the one he released publicly, according to an administration official.

An NBC report published Monday claimed, among other things, that Kelly had said during an immigration-related meeting that he needed to "save (Trump) from himself" while insulting the President's intelligence by calling him an "idiot."

"I spend more time with the President than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship. He always knows where I stand and he and I both know this story is total BS," Kelly said in a statement. "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."

Trump tweeted his own denial as well, calling the stories "false."

The situation is similar to when reports surfaced that then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a "moron."

But the White House official pointed out a big difference between the Kelly incident and Tillerson -- Kelly immediately denied the report and denounced it to the President's face. Tillerson declined to do so, simply saying he wouldn't play that Washington game.

Tensions brewing

Tensions between Kelly and Trump have been brewing for weeks if not months. Another White House official said the tensions don't seem any more urgent or dramatic now, but acknowledged that this could accelerate Kelly's departure.

"The President hates reading these stories," an official said. "He hates it."

Officials have long believed it's just a matter of when, rather than if, Kelly would be fired or pushed aside. The report on Monday capped off weeks of what sources have described as a growing disconnect between Kelly and Trump.

Some have pointed to a controversy earlier this year over former staff secretary Rob Porter, who was ousted amid a scandal involving allegations that he abused two ex-wives, as a turning point in terms of Kelly's influence.

One source familiar with the situation said Trump was rankled by the way Kelly handled the Porter situation; the chief of staff initially attempted to defend Porter against the allegation until a photograph of Porter's ex-wife's blackened eye surfaced and sparked outrage.

'Unhinged'

Multiple sources have told CNN that Trump is increasingly frustrated with Kelly, and a senior administration official said Monday that the feeling goes both ways.

Kelly told senior national security officials in what appeared to be a "moment of frustration" in the last month that he believed the President was becoming "unhinged," according to the senior administration official.

Kelly referred to Trump as "unhinged" during a meeting with the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and senior National Security Council officials, the senior administration official added.

Kelly's comment came as the officials deliberated on the future of the US effort in Syria, following Trump's off-the-cuff comments saying he was determined to get US troops out of the country.

In another example of Kelly being unhappy, one official said Kelly used "salty language" about Trump when Trump wasn't thrilled with picking Kirstjen Nielsen to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Another senior administration official said while Trump and his chief of staff have had disagreements, Kelly has never used that kind of language to criticize Trump.

"I don't think anybody is surprised that he and the President have had disagreements in the past," the official said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 26273

Reported Deaths: 1126
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8867641
Ramsey3252140
Stearns205014
Nobles15625
Anoka148878
Dakota141464
Washington68034
Olmsted67211
Kandiyohi5111
Rice4833
Scott4602
Clay44129
Mower4062
Wright3392
Todd3361
Sherburne2482
Carver2322
Benton1823
Steele1670
Blue Earth1480
Freeborn1420
Martin1325
St. Louis11814
Pine930
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Lyon811
Winona8015
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Watonwan780
Crow Wing774
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Carlton750
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Morrison480
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Meeker460
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Murray400
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Pennington230
Rock230
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Swift190
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Wabasha180
Fillmore171
Sibley160
Brown162
Norman150
Pipestone120
Marshall120
Kanabec121
Wilkin113
Cass112
Aitkin110
Wadena100
Pope100
Koochiching90
Big Stone80
Redwood70
Renville70
Mahnomen61
Lincoln60
Yellow Medicine60
Grant40
Traverse40
Red Lake40
Lac qui Parle30
Clearwater30
Roseau30
Hubbard30
Houston20
Kittson10
Lake10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 20767

Reported Deaths: 583
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4541137
Woodbury283737
Black Hawk177548
Buena Vista9971
Linn97179
Dallas94025
Marshall91218
Wapello62814
Johnson6189
Muscatine56541
Crawford5472
Tama41029
Scott38010
Dubuque35521
Louisa34911
Pottawattamie31110
Sioux2980
Jasper26917
Wright2120
Washington1958
Warren1661
Plymouth1462
Story1261
Allamakee1204
Mahaska9912
Poweshiek928
Henry722
Bremer706
Boone700
Des Moines671
Clarke660
Clinton651
Taylor640
Webster621
Hamilton610
Guthrie543
Cedar491
Benton431
Monroe415
Shelby370
Cherokee370
Jones370
Jefferson350
Marion350
Osceola340
Clayton343
Cerro Gordo331
Iowa330
Dickinson330
Buchanan330
Madison292
Lee290
Fayette280
Sac280
Davis280
Harrison260
Monona250
Clay250
Lyon240
Winneshiek240
Emmet240
Lucas222
Hardin210
Grundy200
Mills200
Delaware191
Humboldt191
Floyd191
Franklin170
Appanoose173
Hancock160
Butler161
Ida150
Greene150
Pocahontas150
Page140
Kossuth140
Keokuk140
Audubon131
Jackson130
Carroll130
Chickasaw130
Howard120
Cass120
Winnebago110
Montgomery91
Adair90
Union90
Van Buren90
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Calhoun60
Ringgold40
Mitchell40
Fremont40
Worth30
Wayne10
Decatur10
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