White House Chief of Staff John Kelly made a rare appearance at the press podium on Thursday to assure two things: He’s not leaving anytime soon — and he’s had better jobs than this one.
“I would just offer to you that, although I read it all the time pretty consistently, I’m not quitting today,” the retired general and former Homeland Security secretary told reporters. “I’m not so frustrated in this job that I’m thinking of leaving … unless things change, I’m not quitting, I’m not getting fired and I don’t think I’ll fire anyone tomorrow.”
Even so, Kelly admitted running Trump’s staff is hardly his dream job.
“I will tell you this is the hardest job I’ve ever had. This is in my view the most important job I’ve ever had. I would offer, though, it is not the best job I’ve ever had. The best job I ever had, as I’ve said many times, is when I was an enlisted Marine sergeant infantryman.”
Kelly’s comments came after press rumors swirled in the past week that he would be the next high-profile push-out from President Trump’s White House.
Trump had previously denied he was planning to cut Kelly, who took the job in July to help bring order in the White House after Trump’s chaotic first months.
Trump tweeted earlier this week that rumors of Kelly’s firing were “totally made up by the dishonest media,” and he said his chief of staff “is doing a FANTASTIC job for me and, more importantly, for the USA!”
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly leading the press briefing.
Kelly took the unusual step of handling the press briefing himself, taking the place of Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and his mild-mannered appearance gave a rare glimpse into his relationship with Trump, which has been a subject of speculation and fascination in the media.
Kelly denied that he struggles to control Trump, or that Trump’s tweets make it harder for him to do his job.
He said his greatest frustration on the job is press coverage of the administration — but he handled it more kindly than his boss does.
“My only frustration, with all due respect to everyone in the room, is when I come to work in the morning and read about things I allegedly said or things that Mr. Trump allegedly said, or people who are going to be fired or whatever,” Kelly said.
“It’s just not true. That’s my frustration. And I mean no disrespect to you.”