John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, abruptly scrapped plans to travel with President Donald Trump on Wednesday so he could try to manage the fallout from new revelations about tensions between the president and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, six senior administration officials told NBC News.
Kelly summoned Tillerson, and their ally Defense Secretary James Mattis, to the White House, where the three of them huddled to discuss a path forward, according to three administration officials.
The White House downplayed Kelly's decision to stay in Washington, saying he did so to manage day-to-day operations.
Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, was fuming in Phoenix, where he was traveling, seven officials told NBC News. He and Tillerson spoke on the phone before the secretary’s public appearance on Wednesday morning.