White House chief of staff John Kelly blasted as "total BS" an NBC News report Monday that he has repeatedly called President Donald Trump an "idiot," defending his relationship with the president as "incredibly candid and strong."
The outlet reported, citing eight current and former Trump administration officials, that Kelly in recent months has made several remarks "insulting the president's intelligence and casting himself as the savior of the country."
Several White House spokespeople told the news outlet they did not believe the report was accurate and said they had never heard Kelly make such comments.
Less than an hour after the report was published, the White House pushed back on the remarks with a rare public rebuke from Kelly.
“I spend more time with the President than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship," Kelly said in a statement circulated by the White House press office. "He always knows where I stand and he and I both know this story is total BS."
Kelly added: "I am committed to the President, his agenda, and our country. This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes.”
Kelly is not the first Cabinet official in the Trump administration to have reportedly made derisive remarks about the president's intelligence.
Last year, NBC News reported that then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to Trump as a "moron," a charge that the former diplomat and the White House fiercely pushed back against.