John Kelly denies calling Donald Trump an ‘idiot’ saying it is ‘total BS’
John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, has denied a report that he called Donald Trump an "idiot"
In a rare public statement Mr Kelly called the report by NBC News "total BS".
The US network reported on Monday that Mr Kelly has privately criticised the president’s knowledge on issues including immigration.
According to the report Mr Kelly had also cast himself as protecting the country from Mr Trump’s intentions.
In his statement Mr Kelly said: "I spend more time with the president than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship.
"He always knows where I stand and he and I both know this story is total BS."
He added that he was committed to Mr Trump and his agenda.
"This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes," he said.
NBC reported that Mr Kelly used the word "idiot" with staff in his office during a meeting about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme.
It protects the co-called Dreamers, illegal immigrants who were brought to the US as children.
According to NBC News the chief of staff felt Mr Trump did not fully understand the issue and was planning to give ground to Democrats.
Profile | General John F Kelly
Mr Kelly, a former Marine Corps general, was reported to have said: "He doesn’t even understand what Daca is. He’s an idiot. We’ve got to save him from himself."
A series of White House officials denied the report.
Meanwhile, CNN reported that Mr Kelly last month said the president was "becoming unhinged’.
The comment was alleged to have been made during a meeting with Jim Mattis. the defence secretary, and senior national security council officials.
An admin official confirms Kelly sometimes used "salty" language when talking about Trump after the president clashed with the COS over who would become DHS Sec.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) April 30, 2018
An official told CNN the alleged comment was made in a "moment of frustration" after Mr Trump said he wanted to get US troops out of Syria.
There was no immediate response from Mr Kelly to that report.
Last year, Rex Tillerson was reported to have called Mr Trump a "moron".
The incident was similarly denied but Mr Trump subsequently challenged his then secretary of state to an IQ test, and later fired him.