White House chief of staff John Kelly is not being considered to head the Department of Veterans Affairs amid reports of a rift with Trump — and "both the president and Gen. Kelly are happy with his position," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday.
"No, he's not being considered for the V.A. secretary," Sanders said at the daily briefing.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Kelly, 67, a retired Marine Corps general who also served as Homeland Security secretary, was on Trump's short list to head the VA.
The report came a day after NBC News disclosed that Kelly had called Trump an "idiot" in the West Wing and had cast himself as saving the nation by preventing some of the things Trump has tried to do.
Kelly said in a statement that he and President Trump had "an incredibly candid and strong relationship.
"He always knows where I stand, and he and I both know this story is total B.S.," he said.
Sanders read Kelly's statement to reporters Tuesday and declined to comment further.
"This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration's many successes," she said in reading Kelly's statement.
Regarding former VA Secretary-nominee Ronny Jackson, Sanders confirmed he was no longer President Trump's physician — though he was still "assigned to the White House."
"He's still an active-duty Navy doctor assigned to the White House, but upon his nomination to the Department of Veterans Affairs as secretary, an acting doctor was put in his place," Sanders said, adding Sean Conley "will remain" in the post.
Conley, a Navy officer, took over Jackson's responsibilities after Trump nominated him for the VA post last month.
Jackson, 50, a Navy rear admiral, withdrew his nomination last week after allegations of improper behavior surfaced in a report leaked by Montana Democratic Sen. John Tester, the ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
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