A reporter, in the wake of the president firing Rex Tillerson and continued rumors of pending shakeups, told Sanders, "we're hearing a lot from staff behind the scenes saying they're on edge, people are anxious, they don't know what's happening in terms of staffing exits, firings".
Kelly revealed the surprise anecdote in a room of reporters and senior Trump administration officials Friday.
The conservative TV analyst Larry Kudlow was named as economic adviser on Wednesday, after Gary Cohn quit over trade disagreements.
The president himself has said in recent days that there will always be change in his administration, and that he's still contemplating more moves.
The Washington Post reported that Trump is "now comfortable" with ousting McMaster with whom he never personally gelled, but is willing to take time executing the move because he wants to ensure both that the three-star Army General is not humiliated and that there is a strong successor lined up.
The president and McMaster have disagreed on a number of issues - including the Iran deal and the USA approach to North Korea - and the national security adviser has also clashed with Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to the officials.
It's also possible that the President delays firing McMaster in an attempt to disprove reports in the media, one source familiar with Trump's thinking said. He was the target of online attacks from the fringes of the right wing last summer, including for his alleged insufficient support of Israel.
Oscars president John Bailey under investigation for sexual harassment, reports say
His DP credits include Groundhog Day , American Gigolo, As Good As It Gets and The Kid Stays in the Picture . When confronted with those complaints, Bailey told Variety a year ago : 'What you just said is bulls**t.
The daily reported that Trump has complained that McMaster is too rigid and that his briefings go on too long and seem irrelevant. At the time, the State Department said he was not feeling well, the USA media reported.
"The President controls the timing here", another White House official told CNN, nodding to the fact that nothing is certain until Trump deems it to be.
Trump has expressed frustration with aides whom he believes try to "manage" him according to several current and former White House officials - and has grown exhausted of efforts by his staff to stall controversial actions they disagree with.
White House aides initially claimed that Kelly had called Tillerson last Friday, interrupting a night's sleep in Africa to let him know the president planned to relieve him of duty.
A second source said "aides said discussions about rehiring him are still in the early stages".
Trump's nominee to be the next secretary of state -CIA director Mike Pompeo - is a longtime favorite of the president who has demonstrated rare ability to navigate the West Wing.
Trump immediately hired McEntee to work for his campaign.