John Kelly

Quote of the Day

“I think I’ve called every family of someone who’s died. As far as other representatives, I don’t know. You could ask Gen. Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?”

— President Trump, quoted by the Washington Examiner., referring to his chief of staff’s son who died while fighting in Afghanistan in 2010.

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.”

Kelly Thinks He Talked Trump Out of a Border Wall

Ryan Lizza: “A hint of Kelly’s potential influence on Trump emerged two weeks ago, in Aspen, Colorado, when Kelly made a startling revelation. According to several sources who attended a private briefing that included some of the nation’s most senior current and former national-security officials, Kelly sought to ease their minds about one of the most controversial and famous Trump proposals: the border wall with Mexico. Many of the current and former officials were deeply skeptical of Trump, and surprised that Kelly, a respected Marine Corps general, would even take a job working for him.”

“Kelly explained that he had spent a great deal of time talking through the issue with Trump, and he believed he had convinced the President that he didn’t actually need to build a physical wall along the entire nineteen-hundred-mile-long border between the United States and Mexico. Instead, the use of sophisticated monitoring technology, air surveillance, and fencing could secure the border with what Trump could start calling a ‘barrier.'”

Kelly Not Afraid to Stand Up to Trump

Associated Press: “Raised voices could be heard through the thick door to the Oval Office as John Kelly — then secretary of Homeland Security — offered some tough talk to President Donald Trump. Kelly, a whip-cracking retired general who was sworn in as White House chief of staff on Monday, had demanded to speak to the president alone after Trump complained loudly that the U.S. was admitting travelers from countries such as Afghanistan, Iran and Haiti.”

“Kelly first tried to explain to Trump that the admissions were standard — some people had legitimate reasons to visit the country — but the president insisted that it was making him look bad, according to an administration official familiar with the exchange about a month ago. Kelly then demanded that other advisers leave the room so he could speak to the president frankly. Trump refused at first, but agreed when Kelly insisted. It was an early indication that Kelly, a decorated retired Marine general who served three tours in Iraq, is not afraid to stand up to his commander-in-chief.”