The revolving door at President Trump’s White House appears ready for another spin as General John Kelly is expected to exit his post as Chief of Staff no later than the end of July and possibly much sooner than that, according to a report by The Wall St. Journal.
The end of July would mark Kelly’s one year anniversary in the White House hot seat, after months of rumors that the General was not getting along with the notoriously mercurial president.
I’m still here, currently.
— General John Kelly (@JKSuicideWatch) June 28, 2018
The Journal reports Trump has been having conversations with his top advisors about who should replace Kelly, with Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Vice President Pence’s Chief of Staff Nick Ayers considered to be the frontrunners.
When Kelly left his post as Secretary of Homeland Security last July to become Chief of Staff replacing Reince Priebus, who lasted less than a year, there were widespread reports of infighting inside the Trump administration.
Kelly was touted as the stern father figure with a military background – the grown up in the room – who could get everyone to fall in line, create a more disciplined approach and enforce a chain of command that had to go through him.
Kelly appears to share some of Trump’s philosophy and beliefs – They are both hardliners on immigration, favored the travel ban and want to build the expensive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
However, it quickly became apparent that the idea Kelly could force the president to be more disciplined, or schedule his appointments and calls through the system, was not working well.
Less than two months after Kelly took the job, the Washington Post reported that “So far Kelly has left no discernible imprint on the White House’s philosophy, even though he has assumed full control of its governance.”
While Kelly tried to bring order from the chaos, Trump apparently resisted and began to cut Kellly out of some decisions and personnel appointment choices.
By April of this year, CBS News was reporting that “Kelly, once empowered to bring order to a turbulent West Wing, has receded from view, his clout diminished, his word less trusted by staff and his guidance less tolerated by an increasingly go-it-alone president.”
“Emboldened in his job,” continued CBS News, “Mr. Trump has rebelled against Kelly’s restrictions and mused about doing away with the chief of staff post entirely. It’s all leading White House staffers and Trump allies to believe that Kelly is working on borrowed time.”
Later in April, Kelly denied a report by NBC News that he had called Trump an “idiot” and mocked Trump’s lack of policy knowledge.
NBC also reported, citing eight sources, that “Kelly used the insult during closed-door meetings with other White House staffers amid tense negotiations over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Trump tried to end last year.”“He doesn’t even understand what DACA is. He’s an idiot,” NBC quoted Kelly in one meeting. “We’ve got to save him from himself.”
The drumbeat of rumors that Kelly would soon be out has continued and may finally be coming true. The Wall Street Journal says Kelly has told intimates that he will not stay beyond the one year mark in the job at the end of July.
“People close to the White House said that departure could come as early as this week,” reports the WSJ, “or could follow the president’s mid-July trip to Europe, where he will attend the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit and meet with the leaders of the U.K. and Russia.”
If Kelly does leave, which seems likely, it will continue Trump’s policy of replacing those with experience and a broad view of politics with replacements that are there to just carrying out his orders – no matter how absurd they seem – and constantly flatter him.
Plans for Kelly’s exit aren’t yet final, sources said. Aides have fallen out of favor with the president before and yet held on to jobs longer than anticipated. https://t.co/uwl8KJrlL9
— Tim Morris (@tmorris504) June 28, 2018
Trump is not a president like Obama who wants to hear all points of view before making a decision. Instead, he listens to friendly sources – often Fox News – as well as the right-wing echo chamber that keeps telling him to be even tougher and more divisive.
If Kelly was supposed to be the adult in the White House, once he is gone there will be no adults to tell Trump to control himself, or temper his decisions; only those who agree with whatever he says.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has reportedly sort of given up on any hope of shaping Donald Trump’s presidency. He’s now just running out the clock.
— @KC1 (@KC125388327) June 23, 2018
The Trump model is more like an authoritarian dictator in a third world country who surrounds himself with “yes men” and “yes women” who never threaten his power and share his worldview that everyone who doesn’t agree is an enemy.
It is not that most people will miss the hardline, driven, humorless Kelly, but that his exit will leave Trump in a position to be even more extreme and revengeful.
Nobody likes a stern teacher but once they are gone, the resulting lack of discipline can lead to even worse outcomes.