In his forthcoming book, Kushner alleged that Kelly, whom Trump fired in late 2018, spied on Trump’s phone calls frequently. Trump had no idea this was happening until incoming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney raised the issue in December 2018 just a couple of days before Kelly departed the White House.
“Before we departed, Mulvaney and I met with the president to discuss his upcoming schedule. Then Mulvaney handed Trump a document to sign,” Kushner recalled.
Mulvaney then told Trump, “This will end the practice Kelly started of listening to all of your phone calls.” He explained that Kelly “had given himself the ability to listen surreptitiously to the president’s calls.”
Trump was reportedly furious. “‘Kelly did what?’ the president asked, stunned at the invasion of privacy,” Kushner wrote.
Trump added, “End that immediately.”
Shortly after Kelly left, Trump issued an order preventing any other senior White House staff from eavesdropping on his calls, Kushner said.
According to prior reporting, Trump suspected that Kelly was keeping tabs on who called him, so he would advise contacts to avoid the White House switchboard.
A source familiar with the situation confirmed that Kelly did just that.
It was “wholly inappropriate for the chief — or anyone — to listen in on [Trump’s] calls without telling the president,” the source said, according to the New York Post.
Kelly and Kushner had a tense relationship from the very start of the Trump administration, when Kelly pulled Kushner’s security clearance despite the FBI finding no red flags with Kushner’s application.
Even after the FBI and White House personnel security office chief Carl Kline said Kushner could have the security clearance, Kelly delayed giving it to him because he was “concerned about how it would look,” Kushner alleged.