Apr 7, 2018

John Kelly blew up at Trump in Oval Office meeting, threatened to quit

President Donald Trump stands with John Kelly. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly threatened to quit on March 28, according to sources familiar with the events.

What I'm hearing: Kelly blew up at Trump in an Oval Office meeting that day, and while walking back to his office muttered he was going to quit. Sources said it was not related to the David Shulkin firing that happened the same day.

A senior administration official said that calling it a threat was "probably too strong, it was more venting frustration." Kelly often says he doesn't have to be there and didn't seek the job originally.

Details:

  • Kelly packed up some personal belongings, though I'm told that wasn't necessarily because he was walking out. 
  • He was fired up enough that colleagues got allies to call in to calm him down. 
  • At one point DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen — perhaps the person in the administration he trusts most — came over to talk him off the ledge. 

Context: Kelly has verbally threatened to quit more than once over the past eight months.

Why it matters: Very few people inside this White House feel secure or satisfied, given the wild, unpredictable mood and policy changes of Trump. Kelly months ago restored some order and sanity to the place but most of that is gone. 

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