John Kelly reportedly threatened to quit as Chief of Staff after falling out with Trump: Axios

  • Chief of Staff John Kelly got into a heated argument with President Trump and threatened to quit, Axios reported Saturday.
  • The retired general was ultimately calmed by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the report added.
  • The story fanned new speculation that the relationship between Trump and his chief of staff is badly strained.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly threatened to resign in late March, political website Axios reported on Saturday, adding to speculation of a rift between Kelly and his boss, President Donald Trump.

On March 28, Kelly engaged in a heated Oval Office discussion with the president, according to the publication. While en route to his office, the retired general vowed to quit before Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reportedly "talked him off a ledge."

A senior administration official told Axios that calling it a threat was "probably too strong, it was more venting frustration."

Since taking the reins as Chief of Staff, Kelly and Trump are said to have a tense relationship. The former has experienced difficulty reining in his impulsive boss, who is said to be isolating his top lieutenant from key decisions, according to a report in The Associated Press.

Staffers currently believe Kelly's days in the White House might be numbered, The AP reported, though talk of his imminent departure has swirled around Washington for some time.

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), speaks to employees of the agency in Washington, February 21, 2017.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), speaks to employees of the agency in Washington, February 21, 2017.

With Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt also said to be on thin ice, political observers have been guessing which official might be next to depart an administration engulfed in multiple controversies. Kelly and Trump are said to be at odds over whether Pruitt should be forced to step aside, with the EPA official also battered by scandal.

A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Axios' full report can be found on its website.