White House Chief of Staff John Kelly clarified some of his comments about the effect of an ongoing federal investigation on President Donald Trump’s administration in a recent NPR interview, Politico reported on Friday.
Speaking to reporters in the White House Rose Garden, Kelly took back his description of President Donald Trump as “embarrassed” by the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into possible Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign and said the president was instead “distracted”.
“It’s a witch hunt, right?” he said, using one of Trump’s choice terms for the investigation. “It distracts him. Not too much, but it’s unfair.”
Kelly originally said in the interview that the investigation had bled into Trump’s reputation and distracts in meetings with foreign leaders.
The chief of staff also came under fire Friday for his remarks that supported Trump’s harsh immigration policies concerning separating immigrant children from their families, saying they could just be “put into foster care or whatever.”
The interview published Friday wasn’t the only time in recent weeks that Kelly has been pushed to clarify his remarks. He recently had to discredit reports that he repeatedly referred to Trump as an “idiot” in front of White House officials and has notably dodged press appearances as a whole, perhaps in accord with the administration’s wishes.
“The staff has no confidence that he can handle any media,” a former White House aide told Politico. “They can’t figure out how to get him to do any interview without screwing up.”