Said Kelly: “I spend more time with the President than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship. He always knows where I stand and he and I both know this story is total BS. I am committed to the President, his agenda, and our country. This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes.”
“White House chief of staff John Kelly has eroded morale in the West Wing in recent months with comments to aides that include insulting the president’s intelligence and casting himself as the savior of the country, according to eight current and former White House officials,” NBC News reports.
“The officials said Kelly portrays himself to Trump administration aides as the lone bulwark against catastrophe, curbing the erratic urges of a president who has a questionable grasp on policy issues and the functions of government. He has referred to Trump as ‘an idiot’ multiple times to underscore his point.”
Said on official: “He says stuff you can’t believe. He’ll say it and you think, ‘That is not what you should be saying.'”
Vanity Fair: “Now, talk of Kelly being jettisoned is ramping up again. According to sources familiar with the situation, White House officials and Trump confidantes are currently discussing the possibility of moving Kelly to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. These people say that the collapse of Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson’s nomination has created an opening for Trump to slide Kelly into the role. It would give Kelly a soft landing, while also having the benefit of putting a qualified official in charge of the sprawling department.”
Said one Republican: “They’re looking for a place for Kelly to land that won’t be embarrassing for him.”
“It’s unclear how actively Trump is considering the shake-up. (A White House spokesperson said Kelly is not being considered for the V.A.) Such a move, after all, would magnify the fact that Trump hasn’t settled on a viable successor for Kelly’s job…. The names that have surfaced in the past—lobbyist David Urban, Blackstone senior adviser Wayne Berman, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney—don’t appear any closer to being Trump’s pick.”
“Within minutes of his firing in May, former FBI director James Comey received a call from John Kelly, then the head of the Department of Homeland Security and now the White House chief of staff, the Daily Beast reports.
“According to Comey’s account, which is set to appear in his highly-anticipated forthcoming memoir, Kelly was ’emotional’ over the manner in which Comey was let go… Kelly, Comey recalls, said he was ‘sick’ about the situation and ‘intended to quit’ in protest. Kelly ‘said he didn’t want to work for dishonorable people,’ referring specifically to President Trump, who appeared to be upset at the FBI’s persistent investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russian officials.”
“According to sources, Comey writes in his book that he encouraged Kelly to remain in his post, saying ‘this president,’ more than his predecessors, needed people of principle and integrity around him.”
CNN: “Now less engaged in West Wing decisions and less visible in Trump’s day-to-day, Kelly has found himself on a downward slide, sources familiar with the situation said. Though Kelly used to hold senior staff meetings in his office three times a week, the chief of staff has reduced those to one per week, preferring instead to hold smaller meetings with fewer staffers throughout the day.”
“When you lose that power you become a virtual White House intern, being told where to go and what to do.”
— Former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta, quoted by the Washington Post, saying that current White House chief of staff John Kelly has lost his “credibility and influence.”
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly threatened to quit on March 28, Jonathan Swan reports.
“Kelly blew up at Trump in an Oval Office meeting that day, and while walking back to his office muttered he was going to quit. Sources said it was not related to the David Shulkin firing that happened the same day.”
“A senior administration official said that calling it a threat was ‘probably too strong, it was more venting frustration.’ Kelly often says he doesn’t have to be there and didn’t seek the job originally.”
Washington Post: How John Kelly faded as White House disciplinarian.
Associated Press: “When President Donald Trump made a congratulatory phone call to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, White House chief of staff John Kelly wasn’t on the line. When Trump tapped John Bolton to be his next national security adviser, Kelly wasn’t in the room. And when Trump spent a Mar-a-Lago weekend stewing over immigration and trade, Kelly wasn’t in sight.”
“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.”
“Trump recently told one confidant that he was ‘tired of being told no’ by Kelly and has instead chosen to simply not tell Kelly things at all.”
“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has lost significant influence with President Trump, according to several sources within Trump’s orbit,” The Hill reports.
“Those sources say that Trump has proven increasingly resistant to the discipline that Kelly has sought to impose on the White House since he took over from Reince Priebus last summer.”
“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has lost some of his clout following recent missteps and wasn’t at President Trump’s side for recent crucial decisions on staffing and policy moves,” Bloomberg reports.
“Kelly wasn’t with the president last week when Trump abruptly decided to oust H.R. McMaster as national security adviser and replace him with John Bolton. Just two people were in the room for that decision: Trump and Bolton.”
“And Kelly is rarely on the line any more when Trump calls foreign leaders. Last week, when Trump spoke with President Vladimir Putin days before the U.S. decided to expel dozens of Russian diplomats, Kelly wasn’t on the call.”
President Trump has emboldened Anthony Scaramucci to continue attacking White House chief of staff John Kelly during his cable news appearances, CNN reports.
“In multiple television segments, Scaramucci has faulted Kelly for the ‘terrible morale’ in the West Wing, at times referring to him as ‘General Jackass’ and suggesting he apologize for his handling of the Rob Porter resignation. According to this source, the President is aware of Scaramucci’s criticisms and has not discouraged him from making them.”
“White House chief of staff John Kelly’s comment that God punished him when he left the Department of Homeland Security for the West Wing aggravated President Trump and was not well received,” CBS News reports.
“Kelly made the remark, in a joking fashion… But the president did not take the joke so well. Mr. Trump believes he gave Kelly a lot of power when he arrived, and thinks Kelly should remember and appreciate that — not suggest he was cursed.”
“Does the president want to lose everyone because of General Jackass?”
— Anthony Scaramucci, quoted by Bloomberg, about White House chief of staff John Kelly and the “horrible” morale inside the White House.
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.”
“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.”
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.
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 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.”