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The Secret Service Director Sent A Sarcastic Message To John Kelly On His Chief Of Staff Appointment

"Congratulations, I think."

Posted on May 2, 2018, at 10:51 p.m. ET

Pool / Getty Images

On July 28, 2017, John Kelly was tapped as White House chief of staff.

That evening, the director of the Secret Service sent Kelly a congratulatory email with a flash of sarcasm.


"Congratulations, I think," wrote retired Marine Corps General Randolph "Tex" Alles.

The email from the man who leads the agency charged with protecting the president was obtained by BuzzFeed News in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, revealing his thoughts on Kelly's appointment.

At the time, the White House was contending with a staff shakeup that saw the departure of chief of staff Reince Priebus, press secretary Sean Spicer's abrupt resignation, and combative hedge fund executive Anthony Scaramucci hired as communications director.

In a statement, the Secret Service said Alles served in the Marine Corps with Kelly and they "developed professional respect for one another as well as a friendship."

"As any person who has ever been selected to serve and command in challenging positions understand — congratulations are in order — those who convey the message often acknowledge the magnitude and difficulty of the new assignment and therefore extend a caveat."

  • Picture of Jason Leopold

    Jason Leopold is a senior investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He is a 2018 Pulitzer finalist for international reporting, recipient of the IRE 2016 FOI award and a 2016 Newseum Institute National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame inductee.

    Contact Jason Leopold at

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A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.