Politics & Government

Phil Ruffin on White House job rumor: ‘You’re kidding! God, no!’

A Washington Post story says Wichita billionaire Phil Ruffin’s name has been mentioned as a possible White House chief of staff for his friend Donald Trump.

Ruffin laughed loudly when told of the story on Thursday.

“You’re kidding! You’re kidding! God, no!”

“I hate Washington. I HATE the place. It’s so dysfunctional.”

Ruffin’s name was mentioned in a Post political story headlined “The worst job in Washington right now: Working for Trump.”

The story outlines how people are saying White House Chief of Staff Rience Priebus’ days might be numbered, then says this:

“The president has not signaled whether Priebus will suffer in a staff change. But a handful of familiar names are circulating as potential replacements, including Tom Barrack, a real estate investor and longtime Trump confidant; Republican lobbyist Wayne Berman; former Trump adviser and Republican strategist David Urban; Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross; and perhaps implausibly, businessman and casino magnate Phil Ruffin.”

Ruffin, who owns the Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas and many properties in Wichita, said “that’s just crazy. No.”

He also unloaded about the media stories that put President Trump in a bad light.

“They’ve got a vendetta against him now in the media,” said Ruffin, one of Trump’s closest friends for decades. They didn’t even give Nixon a hard time like they do him.”

He and Trump talk occasionally. Trump has been startled by the vitriol Ruffin said is directed at him.

“I don’t know how he can stand it,” Ruffin said. “Every day it’s something new. If he says good morning, they find something wrong with that.”

“I’m happy about Robert Mueller getting appointed special investigator on the Russian thing, though,” Ruffin said. “Because Donald did nothing wrong with the Russians. He didn’t borrow money from the Russians. He doesn’t know Vladimir Putin.”

Has Trump created some of his own problem with the media and other critics?

“Well, he tweets a lot,” Ruffin said. “He’s got 50 million people following him on Twitter, and I think that helped him in the election campaign. I’m not sure what Twitter does for him now, though.”

“All of this has been very hard on him,” he said of Trump. “He’s not used to that level of criticism. He gave up a lot – the most luxurious life you can imagine, and he did it to try to help the country.”

Ruffin said there’s no way he’d go to the White House, even to help his friend. He’s got two children, a boy, 7, and a girl, 5. “I adore those kids, so even when I have to leave town (Las Vegas) on a business trip, I try to get home that night and help bathe them and put them to bed.”

But his chief reason for never becoming a White House chief of staff is that he knows, for 172 million reasons, why Washington is such “a dysfunctional disaster.”

Several years ago, he wrote a check for that amount, more than $172 million, to the Internal Revenue Service, to pay for the income taxes he owned for that year. He’d recently sold a casino in the Bahamas and had bought Treasure island in Las Vegas, so he didn’t dispute that he owned that much.

“But they lost the check, for God’s sake!” Ruffin said on Thursday.

“How does anybody lose a check for $172,000,000?”