White House Chief of Staff John Kelly surprised the press corps Thursday with a quick appearance to let them know their reports on his impending dismissal are fake news.
The retired four-star Marine Corps general said:
"I would have to tell you that coming into the job as the Chief of Staff, I had decided to not do too much with the press until I get my feet on the ground and figured out what base I was on in any given day.
Prior to this, when I was at DHS and certainly as a Marine general officer, I interacted with the press a great deal. But coming into this job, I really needed to get to know the lay of the land.
I have done, I think, three off-the-records, the first one of which was, of course, violated. But thank you for all of you that didn't violate the trust from those off-the-record periods.
I would just offer to you that although I read it all the time pretty consistently, I'm not quitting today. I don't believe—and I just talked to the President—I don't think I'm being fired today. And I'm not so frustrated in this job that I'm thinking of leaving.
I will tell you, this is the hardest job I've ever had. This is, in my view, the most important job I ever had. I would offer, though, it is not the best job I ever had. The best job I ever had, as I've said many times, is when I was an enlisted Marine sergeant infantryman. That was the best job I ever had.
So unless things change, I'm not quitting, I'm not getting fired, and I don't think I'll fire anyone tomorrow."
Kelly was then asked if he was frustrated at all with the president:
"No, I'm not frustrated. This is really, really hard work running the United States of America. I don't run it, but I'm working for someone who is dedicated to serving the country in the way that he's talked about for a number of years. There are incredible challenges -- you know, economic challenges, healthcare challenges, all of that; obviously international challenges that have to be dealt with.
I don't mean any criticism to Mr. Trump's predecessors, but there is an awful lot of things that were, in my view, kicked down the road that have come home to roost, pretty much right now, that have to be dealt with.
This is hard, hard work, John. And my only frustration, with all due respect to everyone in the room, is when I come to work in the morning and read about things I allegedly said, or things that Mr. Trump allegedly said, or people who are going to be fired, or whatever you all think. And it's just not true.
That's my frustration. And I mean no disrespect to you all."
The chief of staff was then asked about the president’s frustrations:
"One of his frustrations is you … All of you. Not all of you, but many of you. As I said when I first started talking—again, I'm a reasonable guy, but when I read in the morning—I read the—well, I won't tell you what I read—but when I watch TV in the morning, it is astounding to me how much is misreported. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you are operating off of contacts, leaks, whatever you call them. But I would just offer to you the advice: I would say maybe develop some better sources. Some person that works way down inside an office, or—well, just develop some better sources.
The Congress has been frustrating to him. Of course, our government is designed to be slow, and it is. His sense, I think, as a man who is outside the Washington arena, a businessman—much more of a man of action—I would say his great frustration is the process that he now finds himself. Because, in his view, the solutions are obvious, whether it's tax cuts and tax reform, healthcare, infrastructure programs, strengthening our military. To him, these all seem like obvious things that need to be done to protect the American people—bring jobs back. These are all the things that he sees as vital to protect the American people, and ought to advance the American economy or whatnot.
And the process is so slow and so hard sometimes to deal with. So I think those two things."