Photo: AP

Donald Trump’s definitely not fired (yet) chief of staff, John Kelly, is batting 1,000 today, surfacing in an off-the-record session with reporters outside the White House to, among other things, defend HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s spending $31,000 of public money on office furniture.

According to “three sources familiar with the meeting, who paraphrased the discussion” to Axios (who would normally attend these kinds of shady meetings but apparently decided not to this time), Kelly reportedly tried to pull the ‘ol, “you get what you pay for” excuse to explain away Carson’s spending (emphasis mine):

Kelly also defended HUD Sec. Ben Carson, who is under pressure for spending $31,000 on a furniture set. Kelly said $31,000 sounds like a lot of money, but to put it in context he asked a reporter how much they think the chair they’re sitting on costs. Kelly said it’s probably worth hundreds of dollars but it will last a long time. He rationalized Carson’s $31,000 outlay by saying the table could last for 80 or 100 years.

This is the kind of shit you tell yourself to justify an impulsive purchase, like a pair of shoes you don’t need. “I’ll wear them all the time! And have them forever!” Except instead of shoes you paid for, we’re talking about the head of a federal agency that intends to cut millions from public housing spending tens of thousands of dollars on a dining set.

Reporters attending the off-the-record meeting apparently weren’t swayed by Kelly’s response, and asked if Carson would be canned:

He said whenever he makes a decision, he makes sure that it’s legally permissible and from that line he takes five paces back — to allow for optics, ethical and other considerations. Kelly said he wants all decision-making across government and the impression reporters were left with was that Carson is not going to be fired.

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I wonder how many steps back John Kelly needs to take to finally see how Ben Carson shouldn’t have spent that money.