White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton got into a heated argument outside the Oval Office on Thursday, three people familiar with the incident said.
Kelly and Bolton reportedly fought over immigration and border crossings, as well as the Homeland Security Department’s performance under current Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. The people said Nielsen was at the White House for a meeting Thursday but it is unclear whether she witnessed the episode.
Whereas Bolton criticized the department, Kelly stood in Nielsen’s defense which led to an intense argument, the people said, and to Kelly uttering some profanities before storming off. According to a White House official, after the chief of staff left, Bolton and Nielsen had a good conversation regarding protecting the border, which is a priority for both of them.
The argument follows reports that a caravan of about 4,000 migrants from Honduras is moving towards the U.S. southern border. Bloomberg writes that the news has infuriated President Donald Trump, who vowed Thursday to deploy the military and shut down the Mexican border unless the migrants are turned back.
The clash suggests that as the November midterms are approaching, tensions in the White House seem to intensify. People who witnessed the shouting match say it was so intense, they even thought for a moment one of the men might resign.
When asked by reporters if he was aware of the argument, President Trump said he wasn’t. The people familiar with the clash later said he was informed and knew of it.
Following reports of the confrontation, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement indicating that there are no hard feelings among the President’s senior advisers.