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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly: I Read Breitbart ‘Cover-to-Cover’ Before Each Work Day

White House chief of staff John Kelly arrives before President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on Friday, April 13, 2018, in Washington, about the United States' military response to Syria's chemical weapon attack on April 7. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

White House chief of staff John Kelly says he reads Breitbart News every morning on his way to work to prepare for his job serving President Donald Trump.

When I get in the car at 5:30 I have to read, basically cover-to-cover, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the CNN website, the FOX News website, Politico and a website I never read before until I got this job: Breitbart. So, you know, to get that end of the political spectrum.

Kelly made his remarks in an interview with National Public Radio which aired on Friday, as he described his daily routine as the White House chief of staff.

The former general revealed that a Secret Service drives him to work from Manassas, VA, where he lives outside of Washington, DC.

Kelly shared his frustrations with media coverage at the White House, revealing a conversation with one reporter who called him their “worst nightmare” for drastically reducing leaks from administration staff.

This is — it’s personal, it’s vicious. … I did my first off the record — that was immediately violated. But after about six weeks in a job one of the reporters said to me, “Look you were our worst nightmare. This place was a clown show before you showed up. We didn’t think this president would last a year [or] 18 months. Now that you’re here, there’s order to the place. The leaks all but went away. So, sorry but you got to go.” So here I am, sitting, still here.

Kelly said that frequently stories in the Washington Post or the New York Times were based on “rumor” and cited dishonorable or low-level sources.

“I think the press, and maybe it’s because only certain people talk and those people maybe leak or are sources — and maybe those people aren’t as honorable as they should be,” he said.

Kelly also spoke at length about Trump’s tough position on illegal immigrants coming into the country which triggered a warning on the NPR transcript of the interview that some readers might find his words “offensive.”

The White House Chief of Staff created a controversy on Friday after he described many illegal immigrants as poorly educated rural residents who were not skilled workers.

“They don’t speak English. They don’t integrate well, they don’t have skills,” Kelly said. “They’re not bad people. They’re coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws.”

Kelly defended Attorney General Jeff Sessions for announcing his intent to separate families of foreign residents attempting to cross the border into the United States illegally, calling it a “deterrent.”

“It would be a tough deterrent. A much faster turnaround on asylum seekers,” Kelly said, telling the NPR host that he would not describe the tactics as “cruel and heartless.”

“[T]he big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long,” he said.

But Kelly indicated his support for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants currently in the United States under Temporary Protected Status.

On May 4, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced that more than 50,000 Hondurans would lose temporary protected status, first granted in the wake of Hurricane Mitch in 1999. The Department of Homeland Security has also ended TPS for nearly 200,000 Salvadorans, 50,000 Haitians, and 9,000 Nepalis, according to the Washington Post.

Kelly said that he supported the idea of a pathway to citizenship for TPS immigrants who had lived in the United States for decades, but suggested that others should be sent home.

“For the ones that have been here for shorter periods of time, the whatever it was that gave them TPS status in the first place, if that is solved back in their home countries they should go home,” he said.

He placed the blame on Congress for refusing to solve the problem and said that the DHS should continue to enforce existing laws in the meantime.

“Just do your job. Fix the problem. Or as I said in some remarks just shut up and let us do our job,” he said bluntly.

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