On Monday Donald Trump's leaky, backbiting White House spun out another microdrama, as NBC News reported that Trump chief of staff John Kelly said some things that have alarmed other officials.
"During a firestorm in February over accusations of domestic abuse against then-White House staff secretary Rob Porter, Kelly wondered aloud how much more Porter would have to endure before his honor could be restored," reported NBC, citing people who were there for those conservations. Kelly also reportedly said that women are more emotional than men, a remark anonymous White House spokespeople didn't even bother denying—one of the spokespeople told NBC, "generally speaking, women are more emotional than men."
But casual sexism and instinctive defense of domestic abusers aside, the most headline-grabbing allegation against Kelly is that he has referred to Trump as an "idiot."
That aspect of NBC's reporting prompted Kelly to denounce the whole story as "total BS," saying 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 himself seemed to come to his chief of staff's defense later Monday on Twitter:
(It's worth pointing out that Trump himself has been an anonymous source for reporters many times and his aides have given anonymous briefings—and, of course, the White House spokespeople gave anonymous quotes to NBC.)
Beyond the immediate question of whether Kelly called Trump an "idiot" there's the larger fact of an administration perpetually at war with itself. Late last year allegations that then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a "moron" became a multi-day news story. When he left the White House, strategist Steve Bannon reportedly said he was "sick of being a wet nurse to a 71-year-old man.” In late 2016, Republican members of Congress were joking about Russian President Vladmir Putin paying Trump. All this might give the impression that the people running the country are vicious gossips who don't respect their boss and use the media to undermine one another in public because they are more concerned with personal status than the well-being of the US.
On the other hand, Trump just tweeted this:
So everything is probably fine.
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