White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly grabbed former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski (then an informal advisor) by the collar and tried to have him forcibly removed from the West Wing last February, says a New York Times report published Monday. The "near brawl," which allegedly took place outside the Oval Office, was cut short by the intervention of Secret Service agents, sources claim.
Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, openly criticized Lewandowski to President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on February 21, a day when victims' families of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting were invited to the White House for an event in the East Room with Trump. Lewandowski was at the White House for a scheduled meeting with the president.
"Mr. Kelly criticized Mr. Lewandowski to Mr. Trump for making so much money off the president in the form of his contract with the super PAC supporting the president’s re-election. Mr. Kelly also expressed his anger that Mr. Lewandowski had been criticizing him on television for his handling of the security clearance controversy related to Mr. Porter," reports the Times.
The two men then left the room when the president took a phone call, and that's when the altercation broke out, sources say:
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.
Lewandowski did not reciprocate the physicality from Mr. Kelly, the Times reports.
Secret Service agents were quickly called over and intervened accordingly, sources claim. "Ultimately, the two men agreed to move on," notes the report.
Since the incident, West Wing staffers have made a concerted effort to keep Kelly and Lewandowski, who's still very much connected to President Trump, at a distance from one another.
Lewandowski is currently writing a book concerning Trump and his "Deep State" enemies, "Trump's Enemies: How the Deep State Is Undermining the Presidency."
Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Kelly "got into a physical altercation" with a Chinese official last year during Trump's visit to Beijing.
"The official was reportedly attempting to access the nuclear football, a 45-pound aluminum briefcase that's always by the president's side, carried by a military aide. It contains information and instructions for the president on how to conduct a nuclear strike," reports Business Insider. Kelly refused to accept an apology from the Chinese official "unless it occurred under a US flag in Washington, DC."
It was reported last week that Kelly got into a heated profanity-laced spat with national security advisor John Bolton over immigration.
"The blowup between John F. Kelly, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, and John R. Bolton, his national security adviser, was loud enough to be overheard by several officials in the West Wing. It erupted as the president — disappointed by new government data showing that his restrictive immigration policies have failed to discourage migrants from seeking entry into the United States — is grasping to resolve a problem that has bedeviled his administration," the report says.
Neither Kelly nor Lewandowski have commented on the reported altercation.