White House Chief of staff John Kelly seems to have accidentally let slip his true feelings about his current job.
The former Department of Homeland Security Chief was maybe a little more candid than he probably would have liked to be at an event marking the Department’s 15th anniversary.
“The last thing I wanted to do was walk away from one of the great honors of my life, being the secretary of Homeland Security, but I did something wrong and God punished me, I guess,” he said.
Kelly lamented that he was only able to serve six months in the position. Trump named him to the Department in January 2017, but then tapped him to replace outgoing Chief of Staff Reince Priebus six months later.
The retired Marine general was hailed as a steadying force and a voice of reason in a chaotic White House. But in recent weeks, speculation has swirled that he may be on the outs.
Kelly was criticized for his handling of the Rob Porter incident. It was revealed that Porter, a Senior White House aide failed his background check for security clearance, and that the FBI notified Kelly of the issue last year. Porter is accused of domestic abuse by two of his ex-wives. Many questioned why John Kelly allowed Porter continued access to the President and to classified materials if he was a known wife beater.
Though Kelly initially tried to fiddle with the story about how long he knew of Porter’s security clearance issues, he ultimately settled on describing the situation as “well handled.”
Rumors have also circulated that he is on the outs with Jared and Ivanka. Kushner’s security clearance was recently denied, though he hasn’t yet lost access to the White House. Whether the Chief of Staff can weather the storm remains to be seen.
Based on his comments at the DHS event, he seems all too aware of the mess he’s in.