White House chief of staff John Kelly is pushing back against a report that he referred to his boss as an "idiot" during an immigration-related meeting. "I spend more time with the president than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship. He always knows where I stand and he and I both know this story is total BS," Kelly said in a statement Monday. "This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration's many successes." CNN reports that Kelly made a similar denial in a face-to-face meeting with Trump after Monday's NBC News report, which cited anonymous administration sources and described Kelly as portraying himself as the "lone bulwark against catastrophe."
Kelly aide Zachary Fuentes says he has never heard Kelly describe Trump in such insulting terms. "Remember, he is a Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine," Fuentes says. "The office of the commander in chief is held to the highest regard." He says Kelly's relationship with Trump has "never been better," though administration sources tell the AP that the chief of staff's influence on the president is waning and Kelly is no longer confident that he will get to his goal of reaching the one-year mark in the job this July. In a tweet Monday night, Trump blasted the "Fake News" for "making up false stories." "They are totally unhinged, and the great success of this Administration is making them do and say things that even they can't believe they are saying," he said. "Truly bad people!" (Read more John Kelly stories.)