Remember how John Kelly wasn’t going to leave the White House?
John has been conspicuously absent lately amid all manner of controversy surrounding the administration’s various policy initiatives, from border control to the North Korea detente.
But if you think back to April 8, Trump was furious at a Washington Post article that suggested Kelly was (again) on the verge of resigning in the face of, well, in the face of a boss who steadfastly refuses to listen to reason on anything and is more inclined to take advice from Fox & Friends than from his closest advisors.
Specifically, Trump said this:
The reference there was to a piece called “‘When you lose that power’: How John Kelly faded as White House disciplinarian“.
And that story was hardly confined to WaPo. Multiple outlets reported that Kelly had threatened to resign and it is unquestionably true that the General’s influence in the Oval Office has diminished materially over the past nine or so months, sometimes due to his own fuck ups.
Here’s an excerpt from the article to kind of show you what I mean when I say it’s not exactly “speculation”:
The recurring and escalating clashes between the president and his chief of staff trace the downward arc of Kelly’s eight months in the White House. Both his credibility and his influence have been severely diminished, administration officials said, a clear decline for the retired four-star Marine Corps general who arrived with a reputation for integrity and a mandate to bring order to a chaotic West Wing.
Kelly neither lurks around the Oval Office nor listens in on as many of the president’s calls, even with foreign leaders. He has not been fully consulted on several recent key personnel decisions. And he has lost the trust and support of some of the staff, as well as angered first lady Melania Trump, who officials said was upset over his sudden dismissal of Johnny McEntee, the president’s 27-year-old personal aide.
“When you lose that power,” said Leon Panetta, a Democratic former White House chief of staff, “you become a virtual White House intern, being told where to go and what to do.”
Right. And it’s not like Kelly hasn’t had his share of embarrassing moments. There was, for instance, the Rex Tillerson toilet story, as recounted by WaPo in that same piece from April:
In an off-the-record session with reporters, parts of which later were reported, Kelly also said that when he called Tillerson to let him know he was fired, the secretary of state was on the toilet with “Montezuma’s revenge.” Though White House aides said Kelly was simply joking — and the State Department contested his version of the phone call — many staffers found the comment crude and demeaning.
And then a little color on what transpired ahead of Trump’s infamous “save your energy Rex” tweet regarding North Korea:
In one contentious incident in autumn, when Trump moved to fire Tillerson, Kelly dissuaded him during a heated argument in which he threatened to resign. Trump told Kelly he could keep “his guy,” but soon had his revenge, tweeting “Save your energy Rex” on North Korea.
Well, guess what? John Kelly is reportedly on his way out the door. Here’s WSJ:
President Donald Trump has consulted with advisers in recent weeks about whom he should tap as his next chief of staff, with John Kelly expected to depart the administration as early as this summer, according to people familiar with the matter.
People close to the White House said Mr. Kelly’s departure could come as early as this week or could follow the president’s mid-July trip to Europe, where he will attend the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit and meet with the leaders of the U.K. and Russia. July 31 will mark Mr. Kelly’s one-year anniversary as chief of staff.
So just another “rumor” that turned out not to be a “rumor” and further evidence that this administration is completely off the rails.
Hilariously, WSJ says that one person in the running to replace Kelly is none other than Mick Mulvaney, which I guess means we’d have to find another OMB Director and finally figure out who’s going to run CFPB once and for all.
One thing we would note (again) is that Kelly should have resigned when Trump used his son as figurative cannon fodder in October after the President inexplicably accused former Presidents (including W.) of not calling the families of fallen soldiers. Later that week, Trump inadvertently offended the widow of a serviceman killed in Niger, kicking off a truly absurd war of words between the President of the United States on one side and a grieving widow + Frederica Wilson on the other. Kelly not only allowed himself to get drawn into the debate, but in fact defended Trump at a truly sad (and wildly absurd) press conference.
All of that actually happened, and God only knows what else has unfolded behind the scenes, so congrats to John for finally deciding to abandon this sinking ship.
Of course it’s too late to salvage any credibility at this point, but you know, better late than never, I guess.
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