WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has full confidence in his chief of staff and has no intention of firing him over his management of the scandal involving a top administration official accused of physically abusing his former wives, two of the president’s advisers said on Sunday.
In an interview with Fox News, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that Trump “absolutely” is not talking about the possibility of firing John Kelly, a former four-star general who has been serving as chief of staff for the past six months.
“I think that talk about the chief’s departure is much ado about nothing,” Mulvaney said. “I think all of these stories about replacing Gen. Kelly are mostly being fed by people who are unhappy that they’ve lost access to the president under Gen. Kelly’s leadership.”
After six months heading the Homeland Security Department, Kelly moved into the chief of staff position in July 2017 with the task of imposing discipline on a presidential team marked by chaos, internecine power struggles and constant scandals.
The consensus in Washington is that Kelly indeed has managed to quell some of the West Wing turmoil, but he has also sparked controversy that has eroded his relationship with the president.
Over the past week, Kelly has been embroiled in the controversy surrounding the resignation of White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who has been accused by his two ex-wives of physically and psychologically mistreating them for years.
Kelly openly expressed support for Porter when the accusations of abuse by his ex-wives first publicly came to light, but later it emerged that the chief of staff had known about those accusations months ago but had done nothing, creating further controversy.
In an interview with ABC, Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s closest advisers, said that she had spoken to the president on Saturday evening and that “He has full confidence in his current chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly and he’s not actively searching for replacements.”
She also said that Trump also fully trusts Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, who is dating Porter and who, according to several media accounts, helped draft Kelly’s initial reaction to the brewing scandal in which he praised and defended his subordinate.