Priebus: Trump didn't complain to me about Kelly

Priebus: Trump didn't complain to me about Kelly
© Greg Nash

Former White House chief of staff Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusFormer Trump staffer suing Trump, campaign over sex discrimination Founder of veterans group says Trump Jr. can join the military if he 'really wants to understand what sacrifice is all about' Mulvaney faces uncertain future after public gaffes MORE denied a report in The New York Times this week that claimed President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE phoned his former aide to complain about current chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE.

In an interview with Hugh Hewitt broadcast Saturday, Priebus claimed the conversation, in which Trump reportedly complained to Priebus about Kelly's handling of domestic abuse allegations against a White House aide, never happened.

"The breaking news is that in Friday’s New York Times, it was alleged that you had talked to the president and urged him to fire John Kelly. Did that happen?" Hewitt asked Priebus in an interview on MSNBC.

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"Well, that wasn’t what was in the article. The article simply said that we had talked about it, and we didn’t," Priebus responded.

"The president has never complained to me about General Kelly," he continued. "And on top of it, I would never, number one, he didn’t do that. But number two, I would never bring up such a subject. I’m not going to sit around and talk about the management of the West Wing. I don’t, that just didn’t happen."

Priebus went on to praise Kelly, who replaced him as chief of staff last summer, saying the top aide has the toughest job in the Trump administration.

"I like John Kelly a lot. I think he’s an American hero," Priebus said. "It’s a huge job. And I have to say, you know, I used to say you know, what everyone, what anyone thinks the job is, just multiply it by 50."

"When a four-star combat Marine says it’s the hardest job he’s ever had in his life, I think that means something," he added. "But no, the president doesn’t complain to me about any of those sorts of things."

Priebus's comments came in response to a report in the Times that claimed Trump contacted his former chief of staff this week as the White House dealt with allegations that former staff secretary Rob Porter physically and emotionally abused his two ex-wives.

Porter denied the claims facing him in a statement Wednesday announcing his resignation from the White House.

"These outrageous allegations are simply false," he said.

Kelly, meanwhile, defended Porter in an initial statement but called the accusations "shocking" in a second statement after the aide's resignation.

“I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter,” Kelly said. “There is no place for domestic violence in our society.” But he added: “I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming chief of staff and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation.”