John Kelly calls Trump an 'idiot' in private — and is planning to leave the White House this summer
President Donald Trump (left) and White House chief of staff John Kelly (right). Image via Saul Loeb/AFP.

Trump administration officials say White House chief of staff John Kelly considers himself the only barrier between Donald Trump and catastrophe — and has at times called the president "an idiot."


According to eight current and former White House officials who spoke with NBC News, the increasingly public rift between the president and his chief of staff has widened to the point that he expects to no longer work in the West Wing come July of this year.

"He doesn't even understand what [the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program] is. He's an idiot," Kelly reportedly said, as per two officials. "We've got to save him from himself."

"He says stuff you can't believe," a senior White House official told NBC. "He'll say it and you think, 'That is not what you should be saying.'"

Along with Kelly's comments about the president, four of NBC's White House sources said the chief of staff "has at times made remarks that have rattled female staffers," including the claim that "women are more emotional than men." That comment, the former and current Trump administration officials said, was made at least once in the president's company.

White House spokespeople told NBC that although they didn't believe the chief of staff called the president an "idiot," they did say Kelly may have made comments about Trump not knowing "the full impact" of ending DACA.