President Donald Trump shakes hands with newly sworn-in White House Chief of Staff John Kelly at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 31, 2017.
PHOTO: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
President Donald Trump shakes hands with newly sworn-in White House Chief of Staff John Kelly at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 31, 2017.
Now playing
01:11
Trump furious about Kelly's wall comments
President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
PHOTO: Richard Drew/AP
President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Now playing
02:17
Trump claim to world leaders met with laughter
PHOTO: CNNMoney
Now playing
06:22
How Trump's tweet sparked #WhyIDidntReport
President Donald Trump points to the crowd after speaking to law enforcement officials on the street gang MS-13, Friday, July 28, 2017, in Brentwood, N.Y.
PHOTO: Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump points to the crowd after speaking to law enforcement officials on the street gang MS-13, Friday, July 28, 2017, in Brentwood, N.Y.
Now playing
01:46
Trump's I'm-joking-but-not-really strategy
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 15:  U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question as he speaks to members of the White House Press Corps prior to his Marine One departure from the South Lawn of the White House December 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Alex Wong/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 15: U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question as he speaks to members of the White House Press Corps prior to his Marine One departure from the South Lawn of the White House December 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:20
Trump often says he's 'the least racist person'
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:00
Trump on Manafort: I feel sad about that
PHOTO: Pool
Now playing
01:22
Trump on Cordray: He was groomed by 'Pocahontas'
Now playing
05:58
Baldwin: This face behind Trump startled me
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:01
Trump responds to op-ed: 'Gutless'
PHOTO: CNN Illustration/Getty Images
Now playing
03:18
Why Woodward's book matters
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:13
Dean: Trump acts 'frighteningly dictatorial'
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 08:  U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room at the White House May 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. After two and a half years of negotiations, Iran agreed in 2015 to end its nuclear program in exchange for Western countries, including the United States, lifting decades of economic sanctions. Since then international inspectors have not found any violations of the terms by Iran.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 08: U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room at the White House May 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. After two and a half years of negotiations, Iran agreed in 2015 to end its nuclear program in exchange for Western countries, including the United States, lifting decades of economic sanctions. Since then international inspectors have not found any violations of the terms by Iran. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:31
Woodward book reveals 'crazytown' White House
PHOTO: CNN Illustration/Getty Images
Now playing
03:03
Trump's latest Twitter tirade lashes at media
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump waits to speak during a memorial service at the Pentagon for the 9/11 terrorist attacks  September 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump waits to speak during a memorial service at the Pentagon for the 9/11 terrorist attacks September 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:57
Trump warns of violence if GOP loses midterms
PHOTO: Photo Illustration: Getty Images/CNN Business
Now playing
01:40
Trump: Impeach somebody who's done great job?
PHOTO: Fox News Channel
Now playing
01:19
Trump on Sessions: What kind of man is this?

Story highlights

Trump surprised reporters in Kelly's office on Wednesday

It was, as one source would later describe, "a warning shot"

(CNN) —  

President Donald Trump has grown increasingly frustrated with his chief of staff John Kelly – a sentiment that, according to several sources, crystallized Wednesday evening in the West Wing and echoed previous episodes of tension between the President and a chief of staff.

Just hours away from departing Washington for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump – already dressed in his overcoat – stood up from the Resolute Desk, strode out of the Oval Office and made his way to Kelly’s office, where he upended an immigration briefing with a room full of reporters for the next 10 minutes.

It was, as one source would later describe, “a warning shot” from a freewheeling President who has felt more and more undermined by his structured chief of staff.

For Oval Office watchers, a familiar film reel is playing on the screen: An irritated president. An outspoken chief of staff. A missed trip.

Kelly was in the middle of a story when Trump entered the room, to the surprise of reporters and White House staff. It was a rarity for a President who hardly ever enters staffers’ offices. Typically, when someone wants to speak to Trump, they go to him.

“Hello everybody, how’s he doing, OK?” Trump asked Wednesday night, speaking of Kelly. “I think by the way he’s doing great. He’s doing great. Fake news yesterday, or two days ago. I rarely put out a tweet, praising somebody, but only when they get a false story.”

The impromptu press conference set off a scramble inside the White House press shop, with staffers were left wondering: “What just happened? What do we do? What did he say? And was it on the record?”

Though White House staffers insisted to CNN that he coordinated his drop by with Kelly beforehand, Trump, already frustrated with the idea that Kelly is managing him, put him “in a box” once the briefing ended, according to a source familiar with the interaction.

Trump then boarded Air Force One for the 9-hour flight to Davos, while Kelly remained behind in Washington to work on immigration reform.

Latest episode

The flare-up was just the latest episode that highlights how the relationship between the two has evolved since Kelly was brought in to replace Reince Priebus last July. Trump has been privately annoyed with Kelly since his interview on Fox News last week when he said Trump had “evolved in the way he’s looked at things.” The interview set Trump off – he “hated” his comments, one person familiar with his mood told CNN, and spent the evening calling friends and allies to complain about it. Trump later insisted that his relationship with his chief of staff is fine.

Sources who are close to the President say he feels Kelly doesn’t respect him, and only pays him lip service. Aides have privately wondered about how dismissive of Trump Kelly is when he is out of earshot, noting that Kelly has told colleagues he is incredibly media savvy and has bragged about the positive coverage he received when he worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Kelly has been extremely careful to avoid giving the impression that he is somehow managing Trump – which people close to him say is a conscious effort.

Trump’s frustration with Kelly is evident, but some sources caution that talk of discord is planted by Trump loyalists who have seen their access to the President dwindle in light of Kelly’s strict policies.

Two of his harshest measures – screening all of the President’s incoming calls on the White House switchboard and denying those outside the administration access to the White House grounds – have irked associates who work in the private sector and rely on their ability to boast about access to the President.

Familiar pattern?

01:01 - Source: CNN Business
Watch old photos come to life using AI
PHOTO: MyHeritage
Now playing
01:01
Watch old photos come to life using AI
PHOTO: CNN/Getty Images
Now playing
06:46
McEnany says she expected 'peaceful' rally on January 6. Keilar rolls the tape
Now playing
01:26
No, Tom Cruise isn't on TikTok. It's a deepfake
PHOTO: ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live
Now playing
02:02
Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall reunite in 'Coming 2 America'
PHOTO: Courtesy AirlingRatings.com
Now playing
03:06
Virgin Atlantic CEO: We support Covid vaccine passports
Now playing
01:19
Warren proposes wealth tax: 'It's time for them to pay a fair share'
Now playing
01:36
Marriott CEO: Vaccinations are 'the key' to travel recovery
Now playing
01:23
'There should be no threats': Biden's message to union-busters
Ashley Vanderbilt Former QAnon believer
PHOTO: CNN
Ashley Vanderbilt Former QAnon believer
Now playing
07:40
Former QAnon believer shares bonkers conspiracy theory about Biden
snl.fauci.vaccine.orig_00005420.png
snl.fauci.vaccine.orig_00005420.png
Now playing
01:24
'SNL' has 'Dr. Fauci' helping people get vaccinated
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 09:  U.S. President Donald Trump (C) presides over a meeting about immigration with Republican and Democrat members of Congress, including (L-R) Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in the Cabinet Room at the White House January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. In addition to seeking bipartisan solutions to immigration reform, Trump advocated for the reintroduction of earmarks as a way to break the legislative stalemate in Congress.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 09: U.S. President Donald Trump (C) presides over a meeting about immigration with Republican and Democrat members of Congress, including (L-R) Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in the Cabinet Room at the White House January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. In addition to seeking bipartisan solutions to immigration reform, Trump advocated for the reintroduction of earmarks as a way to break the legislative stalemate in Congress. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:14
WaPo: Kelly told Trump DACA deal 'not good'
PHOTO: MyHeritage
Now playing
01:01
Watch old photos come to life using AI
PHOTO: CNN/Getty Images
Now playing
06:46
McEnany says she expected 'peaceful' rally on January 6. Keilar rolls the tape
Now playing
01:26
No, Tom Cruise isn't on TikTok. It's a deepfake
PHOTO: ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live
Now playing
02:02
Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall reunite in 'Coming 2 America'
PHOTO: Courtesy AirlingRatings.com
Now playing
03:06
Virgin Atlantic CEO: We support Covid vaccine passports
Now playing
01:19
Warren proposes wealth tax: 'It's time for them to pay a fair share'
Now playing
01:36
Marriott CEO: Vaccinations are 'the key' to travel recovery