The chief of staff for the President of the United States is typically expected to act as his secretary, assisting the president with some of the more mundane jobs and making sure the office runs smoothly. Apparently former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly didn’t believe that his work for the government should follow him home when he was the Secretary of Homeland Security, prior to taking his job as Chief of Staff.
According to a new book published by California Senator Kamala Harris, titled ‘The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,’ Kelly became angry at her once for calling him at home.
“There were a lot of ways Secretary Kelly could have shown responsiveness, a lot of information he could have provided,” wrote Senator Harris. “Indeed the American people had a right to this information, and, given my oversight role on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, I intended to get it. Instead, he said gruffly, ‘Why are you calling me at home with this?’ That was his chief concern. By the time we got off the phone, it was clear that he didn’t understand the depth of what was going on. He said he’d get back to me, but he never did.”
Kelly, who served as the Secretary of Homeland Security between January 20, 2017 and July 31, 2017, resided over some of Trump’s more controversial policy decisions, both along our southern border and in regards to immigrant acceptance.
“I was new to Washington and still learning how things worked,” Harris wrote. “This episode taught me that calling this secretary of homeland security was a wasted effort. We needed a law. The first bill I introduced in the Senate was the Access to Counsel Act, which prohibits federal officials from denying access to a lawyer for anyone detained trying to reach the United States.”
While no government handbook that we’ve found requires high-ranking government employees to take phone calls from Senators at home, one would hope that if a situation like this one came up again, the current Homeland Security Secretary would not try and belittle a Senator for asking simple questions over the phone.