President Trump on Sunday lashed out again at The Washington Post, calling a recent story by the newspaper suggesting White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has lost credibility and has been reduced to “intern” status a “hit job.”
“The Washington Post is far more fiction than fact. Story after story is made up garbage -- more like a poorly written novel than good reporting. Always quoting sources (not names), many of which don’t exist. Story on John Kelly isn’t true, just another hit job!" Trump tweeted.
Trump has in recent weeks launched a full-scale attack on the newspaper, which has been critical of his presidential campaign and administration, and the paper’s owner, Jeff Bezos.
The president has suggested that Bezos made his fortune at Amazon in part with a sweetheart deal with the U.S. Postal Service that allows the mega online retailer to ship merchandise at bargain rates and that Amazon has avoided paying state sales taxes.
The Post story Saturday says in part: “The recurring and escalating clashes between the president and his chief of staff trace the downward arc of Kelly’s eight months in the White House. Both his credibility and his influence have been severely diminished, administration officials said, a clear decline for the retired four-star Marine Corps general who arrived with a reputation for integrity and a mandate to bring order to a chaotic West Wing.”
The story also includes former Clinton administration Chief of Staff Leon Panetta speculating about Kelly’s status by saying: “When you lose that power … you become a virtual White House intern, being told where to go and what to do.”
While Panetta spoke, the story, which includes several anecdotes of alleged, profanity-laced Kelly tirades, does not include any information from named sources inside the White House, as Trump pointed out in his tweet Sunday.
“This portrait of Kelly’s trajectory is based on interviews with 16 administration officials, outside advisers and presidential confidants, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to assess the chief of staff,” the lengthy, 2,200-plus word story states.
The story also states: “Days after the publication of Michael Wolff’s ‘Fire and Fury’ -- a devastating portrayal of the West Wing, informed by Wolff’s hours of unsupervised time there — Kelly berated senior staff, saying the book should have never happened. ‘This place was a [expletive] before I got here.’ ”
Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, became chief of staff in July 2017, replacing Reince Priebus in an purported attempt to stop damaging Oval Office leaks and perhaps limit Trump’s free-wheeling messaging, which includes essentially daily and multiple Twitter posts.
However, Kelly has created some of his own problems, including the public outcry over his handling of the domestic abuse allegations against then-staff secretary Rob Porter, who was fired.