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Bolton and Kelly get into heated shouting match sparking resignation fears

A heated argument in the West Wing between chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser John Bolt...

Posted: Oct 19, 2018 2:58 PM
Updated: Oct 19, 2018 2:58 PM

A heated argument in the West Wing between chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser John Bolton over a recent surge in border crossings turned into a shouting match Thursday, two sources familiar with the argument told CNN.

The exchange lay bare a bitter disagreement that has existed between two of President Donald Trump's top aides for weeks now.

Donald Trump

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

John Bolton

John Kelly

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US federal government

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Immigration

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International relations and national security

Border control

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Kirstjen Nielsen

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Territorial and national borders

Trump, who was incensed about the rising levels of migrants and threatened to shut down the southern border on Twitter earlier that morning, took Bolton's side during the argument. Bolton favors a harder line approach to the issue and criticized Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during the argument, a source said. Nielsen used to serve as Kelly's deputy when he ran DHS. Bolton reportedly said Nielsen needed to start doing her job, which incensed Kelly.

The President, who sources say was present for the beginning of the shouting match, later denied knowledge of it.

"I've not heard about it. No," Trump told reporters before boarding Air Force One to fly to Montana on Thursday afternoon.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders did not deny the incident, and instead pushed blame onto Democrats in a statement later Thursday, insisting that her colleagues are "not angry at one another."

"While we are passionate about solving the issue of illegal immigration, we are not angry at one another. However, we are furious at the failure of Congressional Democrats to help us address this growing crisis," she said.

The statement continued, "They should be ashamed for pushing an open borders agenda and are only doing this for strictly political reasons. Despite us having the worst laws in the world and no help from Democrats, our Administration is doing a great job on the border."

This isn't the first time Nielsen's handling of border security has been scrutinized by the Trump White House.

Trump and Nielsen got into a heated argument during a Cabinet meeting in May over border security, a source with knowledge told CNN.

Trump said he didn't think she was doing enough to secure the border and two people told The New York Times, which first reported the argument, that Nielsen drafted a resignation letter over the matter.

While arguing is frequent in this divided West Wing, a source familiar with the clash equated it with a falling out.

Bolton continued on with scheduled meetings throughout the afternoon.

The fight between Kelly and Bolton startled several aides throughout the West Wing on Thursday, a person who heard the shouting said, adding that the raised voices went well beyond the heated discussions of the Trump administration.

After the blowup, aides whispered privately that one of the men might leave the White House given the deep disagreement over the border. The fact that the President sided with Bolton, which only added to Kelly's fury.

A White House official said later that tempers had cooled and Kelly was not going to leave. Another declined to comment.

The caravan issue has been the subject of several White House meetings in recent days, according to an administration official. The conversations have centered around not only how to stop the caravan, but also how to use the issue for the upcoming midterms, the official said. Stephen Miller has been heavily involved.

According to unpublished Department of Homeland Security statistics reviewed by The Washington Post, the number of migrant families entering the US reached record levels in the three months since Trump ended migrant family separations -- a result of the administration's zero tolerance immigration policy.

Earlier this week Trump also took note of a migrant caravan formed in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on Saturday and crossed into Guatemala on Monday. The caravan numbers in the thousands, organizers say.

Members of the group told CNN en Español that they decided to join the caravan and head to the United States because of insecurity and a lack of jobs in Honduras. Many are traveling with children in tow.

Trump posted several tweets about the caravan on Tuesday, calling for an end to foreign aid should they continue to travel.

"We have today informed the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END)!" Trump tweeted Tuesday night.

Trump has repeatedly called for cuts to foreign aid in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico, which, in all, obtained some $260 million in foreign aid for fiscal year 2019.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 261167

Reported Deaths: 5713
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17561191
Hinds16687329
Harrison14050202
Rankin11102217
Jackson10729188
Lee9014143
Madison8495168
Jones6607114
Forrest6135122
Lauderdale6067192
Lowndes5490120
Lafayette511794
Lamar499865
Washington4904125
Bolivar4087109
Oktibbeha403581
Panola380981
Pontotoc374757
Monroe3651106
Warren3649103
Union353263
Marshall352069
Neshoba3464154
Pearl River3422105
Leflore3090109
Lincoln304287
Sunflower290373
Hancock288461
Tate279062
Alcorn270754
Pike268180
Itawamba266662
Scott256048
Yazoo253756
Prentiss251153
Copiah247649
Tippah247550
Coahoma245954
Simpson241471
Leake236167
Grenada222471
Marion220273
Covington219072
Adams212370
Wayne208432
Winston205870
George203539
Newton197346
Attala196461
Tishomingo193861
Chickasaw188444
Jasper177838
Holmes171368
Clay164237
Tallahatchie155635
Stone149525
Clarke144762
Calhoun139922
Smith127725
Yalobusha121134
Walthall114037
Greene112929
Noxubee112225
Montgomery111236
Carroll106422
Lawrence105617
Perry104031
Amite100826
Webster95424
Tunica88221
Claiborne87825
Jefferson Davis87727
Benton84823
Humphreys84224
Kemper80020
Quitman7049
Franklin69617
Choctaw62513
Wilkinson59625
Jefferson56520
Sharkey44817
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 436087

Reported Deaths: 6486
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63969994
Mobile31211565
Madison27851208
Tuscaloosa21233271
Montgomery19698326
Shelby19093130
Baldwin16981188
Lee13036105
Morgan12526134
Etowah11987179
Calhoun11441206
Marshall10357123
Houston8886158
Limestone827876
Cullman8203108
Elmore8120104
DeKalb7828103
Lauderdale7798103
St. Clair7763125
Talladega6394111
Walker6002177
Jackson594644
Colbert545276
Blount543986
Autauga532761
Coffee456762
Dale406883
Franklin372448
Russell349212
Chilton342873
Covington336068
Escambia330144
Dallas312096
Tallapoosa3120107
Chambers301170
Clarke293336
Pike261131
Marion251558
Lawrence250752
Winston232742
Bibb221248
Geneva208746
Marengo206529
Pickens199031
Hale182742
Barbour179337
Fayette177029
Butler172459
Cherokee164330
Henry158224
Monroe151320
Randolph144336
Washington140127
Clay129146
Crenshaw122944
Macon120937
Cleburne120724
Lamar119721
Lowndes113736
Wilcox106622
Bullock102228
Perry99118
Conecuh96821
Sumter90026
Greene76823
Coosa63215
Choctaw51724
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