Trump’s chief of staff: ‘I do not follow the tweets’

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November 12, 2017 12:54 pm Published by

Hours after President Trump taunted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Twitter, suggesting he is “short and fat,” the White Housechief of staff insisted he doesn’t carefully followTrump’s comments on social media and tells other aides not to react to them.

“Someone, I read the other day, said we all just react to the tweets,” said Chief of StaffJohn F. Kelly, speaking with a group of reporters after a presidential news conference Sunday in Vietnam. “We don’t. I don’t. I don’t allow the staff to. We know what we’re doing.

“Believe it or not, I do not follow the tweets,” Kelly said.

“I find out about them,” he continued. “But for our purposes, my purpose, is we make sure the president is briefed up on what he’s about to do.”

Kelly’s comments came as Trump prepared for another controversial moment in his five-nation Asia tour — a scheduled meeting with Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines president, who has a history of human rights abuses. Trump had an initial encounter with Duterte in Manila on Sunday, exchanging handshakes and toasts with him at a gala dinner opening an international conference.

Trump’s Twitter habits, and how to treat them, have been an enduring subject of debate starting during his campaign and continuing throughout his presidency. In office, although far more provocative and conversational than traditional presidential statements, the White House has conceded that they can be treated as such. They have the potential to affect stock markets and the behavior of politicians and world leaders.

Yet some Trump advisors, supporters and detractors argue against assigning them too much import — given that many are off the cuff or possibly intended to distract.

“The tweets don’t run my life — good staff work runs it,” Kelly said.

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