White House Chief of Staff John Kelly joked Thursday morning that his job at the White House is a punishment from God.
Speaking at an event in Washington honoring the 15 years of the Department of Homeland Security, Kelly said he didn’t want to leave his job running the department, adding, “but I did something wrong and God punished me, I guess.”
The comment received applause and laughter.
“I miss every one of you, every day,” Kelly said. I went — [ applause ] Truly, six months, the last thing I wanted to do is walk away from one of the great honors of my life, being the secretary of homeland security, but I did something wrong and God punished me, I guess.”
Joking aside, the past week, and the past month, have been tumultuous ones for the White House chief of staff.
He’s had to manage the resignation and allegations of domestic abuse by staff secretary Rob Porter, whom he was grooming to become his deputy. He’s removed top-secret clearances for a number of senior staff who have failed to pass FBI background checks, including the president’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner. He faced criticism from the president after suggesting his campaign promise to build a border wall was “uniformed.”
He’s also managing tension between the president and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, both of whom have engaged in a public dispute over whether or not to pursue a case against the FBI.
And just yesterday the White House lost it’s fourth communications director and loyal aide to the President, Hope Hicks, who announced she is resigning in the coming weeks.
Kelly’s remark was clearly a joke. But as they say, it’s funny because it’s true.