“They’re an influence that has to be dealt with,” Kelly told Bloomberg News Tuesday. Kelly didn’t mention who exactly had the most influence, but he cleared up any speculation about first lady Melania Trump. “I, by no means, mean Mrs. Trump,” he said. “The first lady is a wonderful person.”
With the president’s spouse out of the possible lineup, that leaves Trump’s children and in-laws, both of whom Kelly has commented on in the past.
Kelly, along with former White House counsel Don McGahn, advised the president against granting both Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, security clearances. The president reportedly demanded they be given clearances and issued them himself after his advisers admittedly refused to do so.
Ivanka and Kushner’s influence has been questioned by multiple lawmakers over the years. However, Trump has kept them in influential positions, even admitting last month he considered making his daughter head of the World Bank.
Kelly’s tenure in the White House was tumultuous and marked with disagreements between himself and the president.
The former chief of staff once called his position “the worst [explative] job I’ve ever had” and encouraged potential successors to steer clear.
“Run for it,” he said on “Good Morning America” in March. “You know, just do the best you can, as I’ve said repeatedly, just tell him what he needs to hear.”
Kelly repeated the sentiment about his job in Tuesday’s Bloomberg interview. “It was very hard,” he said. “Very Very meaningful. Not very enjoyable.”