John Kelly

‘Only One Survives’

Jonathan Swan: “The Trump family — and the president’s oldest son, Don Jr., in particular — was angry about the overwhelmingly negative TV coverage about Jared Kushner last night, and feels White House Chief of Staff Kelly is hanging Jared out to dry.”

“Over the past few weeks I’ve found fewer people internally willing to defend Jared. Politically, I’ve never seen him so exposed.”

Said one White House official: “Javanka and Kelly are locked in a death match. Two enter. Only one survives.”

Abuse Scandal Consumes White House

“The more frantically the White House tries to extricate itself from the Rob Porter scandal, the deeper it digs into a political hole,” CNN reports.

“Eight days in, it’s beginning to look like the storm set off by the surfacing of allegations by two ex-wives of the former presidential aide will never abate, absent a decisive intervention by President Trump in moment of accountability and self-criticism that seems alien to this White House.”

Multiple sources told CNN that Trump has not yet decided whether to replace chief of staff John Kelly “but that conversations about who could succeed him have heated up.”

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweets: “Several White House officials are now prefacing or concluding their sentences in conversations with reporters by making clear they can’t swear by the information they’ve just given.”

Kelly Offered to Resign as Chief of Staff

White House chief of staff John Kelly “has made clear to the president in the last 24 hours that he’s willing to resign in light of the president’s dissatisfaction over the West Wing’s handling of the allegations against former Staff Secretary Rob Porter,” ABC News reports.

“While Kelly’s fate is in question, sources familiar with the matter said they did not believe his departure is imminent.”

Meanwhile, Axios says Trump has floated three possible replacements for Kelly: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, OMB chief Mick Mulvaney and businessman Tom Barrack.

Kelly Instructs Staff to Tell Story Many Think Is Untrue

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly “instructed senior staff to communicate a version of events about the departure of staff secretary Rob Porter that contradicts the administration’s previous accounts,” the Washington Post reports.

“During a staff meeting, Kelly told those in attendance to say that he took action to remove Porter within 40 minutes of learning that the allegations brought by his two ex-wives were credible… That version of events contradicts both the public record and accounts from numerous other White House officials in recent days as the Porter drama unfolded.”

Some staffers “after the meeting expressed disbelief with one another and felt his latest account was not true.”

White House Knew of Abuse Allegations for Months

“White House Counsel Donald McGahn knew one year ago that Staff Secretary Rob Porter’s ex-wives accused him of domestic violence, but allowed him to serve as an influential gatekeeper and aide to President Trump,” the Washington Post reports.

“Chief of Staff John F. Kelly learned in September about the allegations of spousal abuse and that they were delaying Porter’s security clearance amid an ongoing FBI investigation. But Kelly handed Porter more responsibilities to control the flow of information to the president.”

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.”