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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Trump embarrassed by Russia probe, says top aide Kelly

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Ben Riley-Smith

Donald Trump's chief of staff has said the president is "embarrassed" by the Russia investigation and must explain away the probe when he meets world leaders.

In a rare on-the-record interview, John Kelly also revealed his "great frustration" at times in the job and said illegal migrants are not "bad people".

The comments could further raise tensions between Mr Trump and Mr Kelly, whose attempt to bring order to the White House and authoritative tone are said to have grated on the president.

Aides to Mr Trump have always played down clashes between the pair but numerous US media reports in recent months have suggested the president has discussed replacing Mr Kelly.

Speaking to National Public Radio (NPR), Mr Kelly was asked about the Russian election meddling investigation led by Robert Mueller, the special counsel.

Asked if it was a "cloud" handing over the presidency, he said: "There may not be a cloud, but certainly the president is, you know, somewhat embarrassed, frankly.

"When world leaders come in, it's kind of like you know Bibi Netanyahu is here - who's under investigation himself - and ... the first couple of minutes of every conversation might revolve around that kind of thing."

Mr Netanyahu, the prime minster of Israel, himself has faced domestic political pressure because of a corruption investigation.

Commentators noted Mr Trump does not like personal criticism and the claim he is "somewhat embarrassed" by the Russia investigation, which he dismisses as "witch hunt", could rankle.

Mr Kelly triggered a rebuke from his boss in January when he said Mr Trump's views on building a Mexican border wall had "evolved". Mr Trump shot back that his views have "never changed or evolved".

The Russia investigation is looking into whether the Trump campaign worked with the Kremlin and whether the president has obstructed justice, as well as other issues.

Irish Independent

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