Members of President Donald Trump’s family who work in his administration are “an influence that has to be dealt with,” former White House chief of staff John Kelly said Tuesday.
Though Kelly did not mention by name Trump’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump or her husband Jared Kushner, who also serves as a senior adviser to the President, he regularly sparred with them during his tenure at the White House, which ended earlier this year.
He also told Bloomberg Televisions’ “The David Rubenstein Show” that he was not talking about first lady Melania Trump, whom he called “a wonderful person.”
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment on Kelly’s remarks.
The comments from the former chief of staff, who has kept a low profile since leaving his post in January, provide a fresh look at how he views the Trump family members working for the administration.
Ivanka Trump’s blurred line between staffer and daughter long irked Kelly, according to people familiar with the matter, who say his regimented sense of order was tested by the implicit access being a child of the President affords. Kelly remarked privately that Ivanka Trump is just “playing government,” a source told CNN last year, and he largely brushed aside her agenda, once disregarding her child tax credit as “a pet project.”
The former official’s relationship with Ivanka Trump and Kushner during his tenure was notably marked by his refusal to grant them security clearances while he faced pressure to do so from the President. In April, CNN reported that Trump granted the couple clearances after both Kelly and former White House counsel Don McGahn refused to do so.
According to “Kushner Inc.,” a book focused on the couple, the President wanted the two to leave their posts at the White House and sought help to push them out from Kelly, whom he told, “Get rid of my kids; get them back to New York.”
Instead of firing Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, the book said Kelly and the President “agreed that they would make life difficult enough to force the pair to offer their resignations, which the President would then accept.” The White House called the book “completely false.”
CNN’s Pamela Brown and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.