White House chief of staff John Kelly told reporters on Thursday that he doesn’t think he’s getting fired.
“I’m not quitting today,” Kelly said at the White House daily briefing. “I just talked to the president, and I don’t think I’m being fired today.”
Kelly’s comments come amid reports of tensions between himself and President Donald Trump. Kelly has a tougher relationship with Trump than his predecessor, Reince Priebus, and has instituted more restrictions around who can reach the president.
Vanity Fair reported that Kelly’s discipline has strained his relationship with Trump, citing an unnamed source who said the president and Kelly were “fighting a lot.” Gabriel Sherman was the latest to report that Kelly is unhappy in the job, quoting an unnamed source who said Kelly is “doing it as a duty for the country.”
Kelly disputed those claims Thursday, arguing that his job is hard. He also acknowledged that it’s not the best job he’s ever had, mentioning his time as an active Marine.
“This is really hard work running the United States of America. I mean, I don’t run it,” he said.
Kelly said he’s frustrated to arrive at work and read reports about things he or Trump “allegedly said” about firings in the White House.
“It’s just not true,” he said.
Kelly argued that he hasn’t taken a firmer hand in the White House, saying he just “put some organization to it.”
He spoke to the press with more respect than many others in the Trump administration, telling reporters they should “maybe develop some better sources.”
“You guys always catch me when I’m thinking hard, and it looks like I am frustrated and mad,” Kelly said, likely referring to reports about his body language during some of Trump’s public appearances.
Kelly also disputed the idea his job was to somehow contain Trump’s impulses, maintaining his primary purpose was to help the president make informed policy decisions.
“I was not brought in to control him, and you should not measure my effectiveness as a chief of staff by what you think I should be doing,” he said. “I was not brought to this job to control anything but the flow of information to the president.”