John Kelly

Kelly Has a Steve Bannon Moment

Jonathan Swan: “Late last night, a few hours after Fox News aired Bret Baier’s interview with John Kelly, a source close to the president told me Trump would explode when he saw what his chief of staff said. The source — who has spent a lot of time with Trump — predicted the president would hate the interview because Kelly came off as the mature professional who patiently educated an uninformed Trump, and helped him see the light and evolve on The Wall.”

“Sure enough, a few hours later Trump tweets his displeasure.”

Said the source: “Kelly has finally ventured into Steve Bannon territory when it comes to trying to create the perception that he’s the ‘great manipulator,’ saving the country from Trump’s ignorance. The difference is, Steve tried to develop that reputation in off-the-record conversations with reporters. Kelly did it openly on the country’s most-watched cable network. It’s the subtle difference between hubris and arrogance.”

Trump Finds a Way to Bypass His Chief of Staff

Wall Street Journal: “The president on occasion has called White House aides to the private residence in the evening, where he makes assignments and asks them not tell Mr. Kelly about the plans, according to several people familiar with the matter. At least once, aides have declined to carry out the requested task so as not to run afoul of Mr. Kelly, one of these people said.”

“The president, who values counsel from an informal group of confidants outside the White House, also sometimes bypasses the normal scheduling for phone calls that give other White House staff, including Mr. Kelly, some control and influence over who the president talks to and when.”

Kelly Praises Robert E. Lee

White House chief of staff John Kelly said that the Civil War was “caused by a lack of an ability compromise” and that Confederate general Robert E. Lee was “an honorable man,” Politico reports.

Said Kelly: “I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state which in 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War. And men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had to make their stand.”

Kelly Mirrors Trump’s Priorities

New York Times: “For all of the talk of Mr. Kelly as a moderating force and the so-called grown-up in the room, it turns out that he harbors strong feelings on patriotism, national security and immigration that mirror the hard-line views of his outspoken boss. With his attack on a congresswoman who had criticized Mr. Trump’s condolence call to a slain soldier’s widow last week, Mr. Kelly showed that he was willing to escalate a politically distracting, racially charged public fight even with false assertions.”

“And in lamenting that the country no longer holds women, religion, military families or the dignity of life ‘sacred’ the way it once did, Mr. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general whose son was killed in Afghanistan, waded deep into the culture wars in a way few chiefs of staff typically do. Conservatives cheered his defense of what they consider traditional American values, while liberals condemned what they deemed an outdated view of a modern, pluralistic society.”

Trump and Kelly Have Been Fighting

A person close to the White House told the Los Angeles Times that President Trump and White House chief of staff John Kelly had engaged in “shouting matches” in recent days.

“Kelly has sought to limit Trump’s free time and to prevent outsiders from bringing him unfiltered and sometimes inaccurate information that can rile him up… More often, though, Kelly and others on his side are frustrated.”

“The president, meanwhile, is said to be discomfited not only by the attempts to control him, but by the recent departure of his longtime lieutenant, Keith Schiller, who had been White House director of operations and, perhaps most important, a key interpreter and soother of Trump’s feelings.”

Kelly Has a Mar-a-Lago Strategy to Contain Trump

Vanity Fair: “According to conversations with four prominent Republicans close to the White House, Trump has grown frustrated with Kelly in recent weeks at what he sees as Kelly’s highhandedness. ‘They’re fighting a lot,’ one source explained. The most recent flashpoint was Kelly’s decision late last month to reassign Peter Navarro, Trump’s nationalist trade adviser, to report to Gary Cohn, without first clearing it with Trump. According to two sources familiar with the matter, Navarro bumped into Trump in the West Wing and explained that Kelly had reassigned him to work for Cohn, which was news to the president. ‘Trump was like, what the fuck? He told Navarro, “You’re my guy and hang in there,”’ said a source briefed on the conversation. The source said Trump has taken up the matter with Kelly.”

“According to two sources, Kelly has developed a Mar-a-Lago strategy to prevent Trump from soliciting advice from members and friends. (In February, Trump turned his dinner table into an open-air Situation Room when North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile.) Sources briefed on Kelly’s plans said he will attempt to keep Trump ‘out of the dining room.’ The plan looks sound on paper—but, to his staff, Trump can be a formidable adversary.”

Kelly Hasn’t Returned Ex-Chiefs of Staff’s Messages

Politico: “In his first two frenetic months on the job, the retired four-star Marine general and former homeland security secretary has had minimal contact with the small club of people who have served as gatekeepers to a president before him.”

“That’s somewhat unusual. Most chiefs of staff — a position that has been described by people who have survived it as daily exercise in mimicking Edvard Munch’s painting ‘The Scream’ — have generally looked to others who have been through the fire as a resource.”

John Kelly Is No Outsider

Boston Globe: “The new chief of staff is often painted as an outsider, but he does have a deep well of experience to draw on to put the White House on firmer ground. He has been a fixture in Washington power circles long enough make the speaking rounds at top Beltway institutions[.] … He has forged ties among members of the House and Senate . . . And his time in the military taught him to create order from chaos, a skill badly needed in a White House roiled by competing factions and populated by outsiders who have no idea how to get things done in Washington.”

Kelly Struggles to Make Sense of Kushner’s Role

Politico: “It’s not just Kelly who is uncertain of how to make the arrangement work. In recent months, according to multiple administration officials, the president has also been casually surveying people close to him about whether having his family members in the government is creating too much noise.”

“Since Kelly put his firm grip on the West Wing in July, however, the role of the Trump children has shifted. Aides claim the couple was eager for a more functional work environment, and have been happy to fall in line with Kelly’s rules.”

“But Kushner has also complained to friends and allies about his stunted status in the new regime. He can no longer simply float in and out of the Oval Office, or function in the freewheeling role he has grown used to since the campaign, he has told associates. That marks a change of status for the former real estate scion, who before working as a free-ranging agent for his father-in-law, served as the top dog at his family-owned real estate company in Manhattan.”

Kelly Bristles at Treatment by Trump

“President Trump was in an especially ornery mood after staff members gently suggested he refrain from injecting politics into day-to-day issues of governing after last month’s raucous rally in Arizona, and he responded by lashing out at the most senior aide in his presence,” the New York Times reports.

“It happened to be his new chief of staff, John F. Kelly.”

“Mr. Kelly, the former Marine general brought in five weeks ago as the successor to Reince Priebus, reacted calmly, but he later told other White House staff members that he had never been spoken to like that during 35 years of serving his country. In the future, he said, he would not abide such treatment, according to three people familiar with the exchange.”

Kelly Acts as Honest Broker in the White House

Washington Post: “In an administration that has split into factions and been ravaged by ideological warfare, Kelly has asserted himself as a rare apolitical force. So far, he has left no discernible imprint on the White House’s philosophy, yet he has assumed control of its governance, running operations and the policy process in a way that Trump advisers hope will lead to tangible results.”

“Passing up opportunities to craft policies, Kelly has acted as a neutral mediator — encouraging key players to argue their points, ensuring proposals are fully vetted and then presenting the options to the president. He has assiduously avoided being tagged as a stalking horse for Bannon and his wing of hard-line nationalists or for senior adviser Jared Kushner and his coterie of business-friendly centrists. Rather, he has cultivated personal relationships with each of the competing spheres of the White House and pledged a fair hearing for all.”

Can John Kelly Tame Trump’s Tweets?

Bloomberg: “Kelly is testing his authority to tame Trump’s sometimes reckless tweeting habits. While Kelly isn’t vetting every presidential tweet, Trump has shown a willingness to consult with his chief of staff before hitting ‘send’ on certain missives that might cause an international uproar or lead to unwelcome distractions, according to three people familiar with the interactions. Kelly has been ‘offering a different way to say the same thing,’ the person said.”

“Trump has made it clear, however, that he reserves the right to ignore advice on tweets.”

Sessions Told His Job Is Safe

“New White House chief of staff John Kelly, in one of his first acts in his new post, called Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reassure him that his position was safe despite the recent onslaught of criticism he has taken from President Trump,” the AP reports.

“Kelly called Sessions on Saturday to stress that the White House was supportive of his work and wanted him to continue his job.”