White House chief of staff grabbed Trump adviser by collar, separated by security – reports
Secret Service agents had to separate White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and informal Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski, after a heated argument outside the Oval Office almost turned into a brawl, reports suggest.
Citing several sources familiar with the event, The New York Times reported Monday that Kelly grabbed Lewandowski “by his collar” and tried to “push him against a wall” after requesting he be removed from the building.
The altercation apparently occurred on February 21 – the same day the president met victims of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Prior to the incident, both men had been meeting with President Donald Trump inside the Oval Office when Kelly is said to have verbally attacked Lewandowski for making money from his contract for a super PAC supporting Trump’s re-election.
Kelly was also angry at Lewandowski for criticizing him on television over his handling of the security clearance of ex-staff secretary Rob Porter.
Porter had stepped down from his role in early February after it was made public he had physically and emotionally abused his ex-wife during their marriage – something Kelly had reportedly known about before his appointment. After Trump excused Kelly and Lewandowski to take a phone call, their shouting match reportedly continued in the hallway, with Kelly demanding Lewandowski be ejected from the West Wing before laying hands on him.
While Lewandowski himself didn’t respond physically, Secret Service personnel were called to intervene after which both men agreed to walk away.
If confirmed, the incident would be the latest in a series of reports of arguments between Kelly and members of Trump’s staff. Last week, US media reported that a heated, profanity-ridden argument between Kelly and National Security chief John Bolton over increased border crossings led some staff to fear Kelly might resign.
Kelly’s temper was also on show during Trump’s visit to China last year, after reports suggested he got into a physical altercation with a Chinese official who was trying to gain access to the nuclear football – the briefcase US presidents use to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centers.
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