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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.”
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.”
“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.”
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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.'”
John Podesta: “As a former White House chief of staff, the best advice I could have given Gen. John F. Kelly has been overtaken by events: Don’t take the job.”
“To have any chance of succeeding, he will have to accomplish three extraordinary tasks, all at odds with President Trump’s instincts.”
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.”
“New White House chief of staff John Kelly was so upset with how President Donald Trump handled the firing of FBI Director James Comey that Kelly called Comey afterward and said he was considering resigning,” CNN reports.
“Comey, who took Kelly’s call while traveling back from Los Angeles to Washington, responded to Kelly by telling him not to resign… The sources said Comey and Kelly are not close friends but that they had a professional relationship and a deep mutual respect for each other.”
Associated Press: “Much of his success will depend on factors outside his control, including whether Trump’s squabbling staff is willing to put aside the rivalries that have sowed disorder in the West Wing and complicated any efforts to enact policy. But no question looms larger than this: Can Kelly do what Priebus couldn’t? Can he curb the president’s own penchant for drama and unpredictability, and his tendency to focus more on settling scores than promoting a policy agenda?”
“No other aide or adviser has been successful on that front. As a candidate — and now as president — Trump has cycled through a cast of campaign chiefs and political advisers but has remained easily distracted by his personal interests and only loosely tethered to any policy plans.”
After President Trump was presented with a ceremonial saber at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement, ABC News picked up Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly telling the president: “You can use that on the press, sir.”
Josh Rogin: “White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon wanted to stop Kelly in his tracks. Bannon paid a personal and unscheduled visit to Kelly’s Department of Homeland Security office to deliver an order: Don’t issue the waiver…”
“The confrontation between Bannon and Kelly pitted a political operator against a military disciplinarian. Respectfully but firmly, the retired general and longtime Marine told Bannon that despite his high position in the White House and close relationship with Trump, the former Breitbart chief was not in Kelly’s chain of command, two administration officials said. If the president wanted Kelly to back off from issuing the waiver, Kelly would have to hear it from the president directly, he told Bannon.”
“Bannon left Kelly’s office without getting satisfaction. Trump didn’t call Kelly to tell him to hold off. Kelly issued the waiver late Saturday night, although it wasn’t officially announced until the following day.”