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Trump denounces as ‘fake news’ a news report that didn’t happen

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On Twitter Tuesday evening, U.S. president Donald Trump denounced as “fake news” reports that White House chief of staff John Kelly would soon be fired.

This story is totally made up by the dishonest media,” he tweeted.

 

As far as can be discovered, however, no media outlet had actually reported this, or anything reasonably close to it. Trump might possibly have been reacting to a short piece in Vanity Fair that talked about Kelly’s unhappiness in the job, but a reader of that story would take the idea of Kelly quitting as being at least as likely as his resigning. On Monday, the Washington Post speculated about a possible replacement for Kelly “should tensions between the president and his top aide become unsustainable.

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In early August, a CNBC commentator predicted Kelly’s outster if he was given public credit for righting a wayward administration: “He will be pushed out because Trump … cannot tolerate anyone else getting the credit.” But that was more than two months ago.

WATCH: The open feud between U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson intensifies, with Trump challenging Tillerson to an IQ test. As Jackson Proskow reports, it’s just another example of how tense the pair’s relationship is.
Does Trump trust Tillerson?
Does Trump trust Tillerson?

Trump then followed it up Wednesday with tweets questioning the broadcast licences of networks which ran stories that displeased him:

Broadcast licences have been used as a tool of censorship in several countries, such as Russia, Venezuela and Indonesia. In Uganda, for example, officials have pulled the broadcast licences of radio and TV stations whose reporting the government disliked.

Trump’s relationship with his inner circle, and senior Republicans in Congress, has frayed in public in a way that would be unthinkable in any other administration in the recent past.

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Tillerson, Mattis and Kelly are serious people: Tillerson used to run ExxonMobil, and Mattis and Kelly were both full generals in the U.S. Marine Corps. Why do they endure life in Trump’s White House? Corker’s comment offers one hint, as does a report that Kelly “doesn’t love this job. He’s doing it as a duty for the country.”

WATCH: The White House said Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump was “making a joke” when he challenged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to an IQ test and said he has “100 per cent” confidence in Tillerson.
Trump was ‘making a joke’ about Tillerson’s intelligence, has ‘100 per cent’ confidence
Trump was ‘making a joke’ about Tillerson’s intelligence, has ‘100 per cent’ confidence

The U.S. Constitution offers another, not incompatible possibility — the vice-president, and a majority of the U.S. federal cabinet, can start the process of removing a president if they deem him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” If Mattis and Tillerson are goaded into resigning, they don’t get a vote when or if the time comes.

READ MORE: There’s a process to remove incapable presidents, but it probably won’t be used on Trump — yet