White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE reportedly told other members of the Trump administration that if it were up to him the number of refugees admitted into the U.S. would be between zero and one.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Kelly made the comment while the administration debated lowering the cap on the number of refugees allowed into the country.
President Trump eventually decided to lower the refugee cap to 45,000, the lowest levels since the Reagan administration, when the Refugee Act was passed. Officials said at the time that this number represents the maximum number of refugees possible under the administration's new vetting standards.
White House staffers told the newspaper that Kelly’s comment is an example of his similarities with Trump.
“Kelly has been an enabler of Trump’s mission,” Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant Homeland Security secretary in the Obama administration, told the newspaper. “Judge him that way.”
Trump previously ordered the Department of Homeland Security to develop "extreme vetting" procedures for refugees.
The report comes one week after Kelly defended Trump against Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonDemocrats scramble to satisfy disparate members on spending package The Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio Frederica Wilson rails against Haitian deportation flights, calls treatment 'inhumane' MORE (D-Fla.), who first brought to national attention Trump's phone call to the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed during an ambush in Niger earlier this month.
The Florida lawmaker said she was in a car when Trump called and listened in on speakerphone. She was invited to be present because she had a longstanding relationship with the family and mentored the soldier through a program she founded. Wilson said Trump was "so insensitive" and caused Johnson emotional distress.
Kelly said he was "stunned" by Wilson's negative description of Trump's call to the widow.