WASHINGTON—White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said President Donald Trump’s main frustrations right now are the media and the Congress.
“One of his frustrations is you. Not all of you, but many of you,” Kelly said at the daily press briefing on Oct. 12.
“I’m a reasonable guy, but when I … watch TV in the morning, it’s just, it is astounding to me how much is misreported.”
Kelly didn’t give any examples of misreporting, although at another point in the briefing he alluded to a report by NBC News claiming that Trump had sought a tenfold increase in America’s nuclear arsenal. The story was shot down by Defense Secretary James Mattis who said it was “absolutely false” and “irresponsible.”
“I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you are operating off of contacts, leaks, whatever you call them, but I’d just offer to you the advice. I’d say—maybe develop some better sources,” Kelly said.
A recent Pew research poll found that only 5 percent of media coverage on Trump during his first 100 days was positive.
In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Oct. 12, Trump criticized the “fake media” and “fake news.”
“Media is bad, they’re really dishonest people, these are very very dishonest people, in many cases, in many cases,” he said.
“Look, I know some reporters, I know some journalists, that are phenomenal people and very straight, very honest. But there’s such dishonesty.”
Pace of Congress
The second frustration that Trump has, according to Kelly, is the glacial pace of Congress.
“Of course, our government is designed to be slow, and it is,” Kelly said. He said Trump was a man of action, outside of the Washington arena.
“Because in his view, the solutions are all obvious—whether it’s tax cuts, tax reform, health care, infrastructure programs, strengthening our military—to him these all seem like obvious things that need to be done to protect the American people [and] bring jobs back,” Kelly said.
In response to a question about Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and if arguing with members of Congress will harm Trump’s agenda, Kelly said the president is willing to work with anyone to advance the agenda.
“The agenda being what’s good for America, what protects America,” Kelly said. “You see him reach out to these people on the other side of the aisle.”
Kelly, who has been in the chief of staff role for nine weeks, called Trump “a straightforward guy” who is “thoughtful and decisive.”
Kelly previously served as Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security. On Thursday, Trump announced that former Homeland Security chief of staff Kirstjen Nielsen will fill Kelly’s old position. Trump described Nielsen as a “dedicated leader whose number one priority is always the safety” of the United States.
Kelly said his focus is to get the right people to brief the president on all options so that Trump can make the best decisions.
“I don’t mean any criticism to Mr. Trump’s predecessors, but there’s 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,” Kelly said.