The New York Times is reporting another story of Kelly getting into a near brawl while serving as gatekeeper for President Trump. The newly reported story took place last February and involves Kelly having an altercation with Corey Lewandowski, the president’s erstwhile campaign manager and informal adviser. Lewandowski himself is a figure with some propensity for violence, having once notoriously manhandled a reporter.
Kelly and Lewandowski had been arguing in the Oval Office in the presence of the president. Kelly was critical of Lewandowski for profiting from an organization supporting Trump’s re-election and also for airing public criticism of Kelly’s management of the White House. The scuffle occurred after the two men left the Oval Office.
According to The New York Times account:
As Mr. Kelly walked toward a hallway leading back to his office, he called to someone to remove Mr. Lewandowski from the building. The two then began arguing, with Mr. Lewandowski speaking loudly. Mr. Kelly grabbed Mr. Lewandowski by his collar, trying to push him against a wall, according to a person with direct knowledge of the episode.
Mr. Lewandowski did not get physical in response, according to multiple people familiar with the episode. But Secret Service agents were called in. Ultimately, the two men agreed to move on, those briefed on the episode said.
Aside from the Lewandowski incident, Kelly also got into a shouting match with National Security Advisor John Bolton last week. Last November during Trump’s visit to China, Kelly reportedly was involved in a skirmish with Chinese officials, whom he believed were trying to steal the nuclear football away from American hands.
These incidences are not all entirely Kelly’s fault. In the case of the altercation in China, it seems that there was a failure of communication between Chinese officials and their American counterparts. The Chinese government apologized for the incident.
Still, Kelly’s tenure has been marked by more violent turmoil than is the norm, suggesting a hair-trigger temper and willingness to escalate. Kelly is often credited as being the grownup who has brought order to the White House.