'God punished me, I guess': John Kelly riffs on his transition from Homeland Security secretary to Trump's chief of staff

  • White House chief of staff John Kelly made some jokes about his role at the White House during a Department of Homeland Security event.
  • Kelly served as secretary of the department before he moved to the West Wing.
  • “I did something wrong and God punished me, I guess,” Kelly joked.

White House chief of staff John Kelly made a few jokes at his own expense during a Department of Homeland Security event on Thursday.

Speaking at a gathering to celebrate the department’s 15th anniversary, Kelly, the former Secretary of Homeland Security, said he was humbled to speak before the audience.

“I have almost no right to be up here on this stage,” Kelly said. “I mean, I was in the department …”

“You have every right to be here, so thank you,” a fellow speaker interjected.

“I miss every one of you, every day,” Kelly said, before being interrupted by laughter and applause from the audience.

Kelly joined in on the humour, rolling back his eyes amid the roars from the audience.

“Truly, six months, the last thing I wanted to do was walk away from one of the great honours of my life, being the Secretary of Homeland Security,” Kelly said. “But I did something wrong and God punished me, I guess.”

President Donald Trump selected Kelly after then-chief of staff Reince Priebus was ousted in July. As a former Marine Corps general, Kelly was believed to have been selected to bring order to what had been a chaotic West Wing.

Upon his arrival, Kelly drastically limited the White House staff’s unfettered access to Trump, a move that included members of the president’s own family – his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and his daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump.

Kelly joked about his White House role in the past. During a social dinner, he reportedly said “after one week on this job, I believe the best job I ever had is as a sergeant in the Marine Corps.”

Watch Kelly’s comments here:

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