John Kelly reportedly threatened to quit because he was so fed up with Trump

  • White House chief of staff John Kelly is reportedly so frustrated with President Donald Trump that he threatened to quit last month after blowing up at Trump in the Oval Office.
  • A senior administration official told Axios Kelly was just "venting frustration."
  • But Kelly was said to be angry enough that West Wing aides had to call his allies to calm him down.

The White House chief of staff, John Kelly, grew so frustrated with President Donald Trump last month that he threatened to quit, Axios reported Saturday.

According to the report, Kelly blew up at Trump during a private Oval Office meeting on March 28 and said he was going to quit as he was walking back to his office.

Around the time of the meeting, the White House was weathering a slew of scandals:

  • Veterans Affair secretary David Shulkin had just been fired
  • The president's lead defense attorney in the Russia probe quit
  • Trump was facing more and more questions over a $130,000 payment his personal lawyer made to an adult film actress to stay silent about an affair she had with the president
  • Reports surfaced that Trump wanted to target Amazon because of a personal vendetta against its CEO, Jeff Bezos
  • Trump had just imposed billions worth of tariffs on Chinese imports

RELATED: John Kelly in his White House role

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John Kelly in his White House role
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John Kelly in his White House role
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks on his phone in a hallway outside the room where U.S. President Donald Trump was meeting with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly delivers speech at the Secretary of Interior Building in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) before a briefing on hurricane relief efforts in a hangar at Muniz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico, U.S. October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about immigration reform at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner look on as U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks before meeting with Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his delegation at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about border security during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly delivers a statement accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City, Mexico February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) and First Lady Melania Trump (lower right) listen as U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (R) shows the time to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (L) as they attend a session on reforming the United Nations at U.N. Headquarters in New York, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (C) stands in an adjacent cabin as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the press cabin aboard Air Force One on his way to Washington after viewing damage from Hurricane Irma in Florida, U.S. September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens as U.S. President Donald Trump makes remarks to reporters before meeting with a bipartisan group of members of Congress at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (R) attend Kuwait's Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and U.S. President Donald Trump's news conference after their meetings at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly stands before a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (R) arrives with fellow staff to board Air Force One with U.S. President Trump for travel to New Jersey from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly looks down at his phone as he boards Air Force One in Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S., hours after it was announced that Trump Senior Adviser Steve Bannon left the administration August 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly looks on as he listens to Mexico's Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong (not pictured) delivering a joint message at the Secretary of Interior Building in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly arrives to Secretary of Interior Building before addressing the media, in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly takes questions from the media while addressing the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly leans on the Resolute Desk during a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks during a daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
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After the Oval Office meeting, Kelly went back to his office and packed up some of his personal belongings, though sources told Axios that it may not have been because he was getting ready to quit. A senior administration official also told the outlet that Kelly was not threatening to quit but was just "venting frustration."

The chief of staff, one of the few remaining bulwarks against Trump's most volatile instincts, was said to be so frustrated that his colleagues in the West Wing had to call some of his closest allies, including Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, to convince him not to walk out.

Kelly's reported threat comes as the White House faces an unprecedented rate of staff turnover.

Since Trump's one-year mark in January, turnover among top staffers has grown to 48% (as of March 15). That indicates Trump's first 15 months in office saw more departures or reassignments than the first two years of the last four presidents' entire first terms.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, fired via tweet; former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, ousted after the media exposed his extravagant taxpayer-funded travel habits; national security adviser H.R. McMaster, resigned amid widespread speculation that Trump had soured on him; and scandal-plagued Shulkin all served the shortest terms of anyone in their positions in recent history, with the exception of McMaster.

RELATED: Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle

28 PHOTOS
Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
Hope Hicks: Former White House Director of Strategic Communications
Melania Trump: Wife to President Trump and first lady of the United States
Gary Cohn: Former Director of the U.S. National Economic Council
Michael Flynn: Former National Security Advisor, no longer with the Trump administration
Ivanka Trump: First daughter and presidential adviser
Gen. John Kelly: Former Secretary of Homeland Security, current White House chief of staff
Steve Bannon: Former White House chief strategist, no longer with the Trump administration
Jared Kushner: Son-in-law and senior adviser
Kellyanne Conway: Former Trump campaign manager, current counselor to the president
Reince Priebus: Former White House chief of staff, no longer with the Trump administration
Anthony Scaramucci: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: White House press secretary
Donald Trump Jr.: First son to President Trump
Sean Spicer: Former White House press secretary, soon to be no longer with the Trump administration
Jeff Sessions: U.S. attorney general
Steve Mnuchin: Secretary of Treasury
Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign chairman
Carter Page: Former foreign policy adviser to Trump's presidential campaign
Omarosa Manigault: Former Director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison
Jason Miller: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Mike Dubke: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Stephen Miller: Trump senior policy adviser
Corey Lewandowski: Former Trump campaign manager
Eric Trump: Son to President Trump
Rex Tillerson: Former Secretary of State
Sebastian Gorka: Former deputy assistant to the president in the Trump administration, no longer in his White House role
Roger Stone: Former Trump campaign adviser, current host of Stone Cold Truth
Betsy DeVos: U.S. Education Secretary
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March 28 was reportedly not the first time Kelly had mulled quitting his job. He has repeatedly said to aides that he does not need to be in the West Wing, and he once joked that God punished him by making him Trump's chief of staff.

"I did something wrong, and God punished me, I guess," Kelly quipped.

Eliza Relman and Samantha Lee contributed reporting.

NOW WATCH: Harvard professor Steven Pinker explains the disturbing truth behind Trump's 2 favorite phrases

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SEE ALSO: Trump's staff turnover is the highest of any US administration in modern history

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