White House Finding Room Under Bus for Kelly: Is Kelly on Way Out?

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thierry ehrmann / Flickr john kelly painting...
thierry ehrmann / Flickr

John Kelly mans the most thankless job in America, the expected “adult in the room” overseeing what had been prior to Kelly’s service, a shockingly undisciplined and embarrassing White House staff (and president).

Now, going into the second week of the Rub Porter debacle, with one self-inflicted wound after another, Politico states that Kelly is increasingly isolated by the White House itself, which past experience shows plenty of reason to suspect that such “isolation” means that the boss is on the way out the door. The White House would be looking for its THIRD chief of staff in a little over a year!

Kelly really had himself in a box, surrounded by incompetents in every direction, including above him on the totem pole, what to do when your one competent person is both a wife beater, and performs an extremely important job?

“I think people underestimate how critical that role is, the role of staff secretary,” said a former George W. Bush administration official. Kelly, this official added, “had a good staff secretary and he didn’t want to have to deal with it.”

By contrast, Kelly had no compunction getting rid of other White House aides, most of whom were obviously less qualified than Porter for their jobs. The process began the moment he arrived in the West Wing last year when he fired communications director Anthony Scaramucci on July 31, his first day as White House chief of staff, days after Scaramucci gave the New Yorker an expletive-laced interview that triggered the abrupt ouster of Reince Priebus and Kelly’s own appointment.

One of the biggest issues for Kelly, and overhanging whether Kelly survives, is that very few good candidates want to work for the White House, and the White House will only take people “ideologically pure” to Trump, no one who was critical in the campaign, no one who’s worked as a democrat, and that has made Kelly’s job that much more difficult, and also might well keep Kelly at his post – at least for now. They can’t put people in the vacancies they have, never mind create the biggest opening at the very top.

Late last week and throughout the weekend, Kelly was consulting constantly with a close circle of advisers, including Nielsen, sounding them out about how – or whether – to respond to claims that he had misled the news media about his response to the Porter allegations. But he still lacks a trusted deputy who can help him run the White House, though he promoted to senior adviser on Friday his onetime military assistant, Zach Fuentes, who has served as his gatekeeper since Nielsen’s departure.

The White House cannot politically endure another week of talk about the horrid handling of the Porter matter (for which, the president deserves a significant amount of blame) or have the media focusing upon anything involving Trump and his treatment of women. Yet, the White House can’t seem to pivot away with Kelly still at the helm.

Though it would seem that all signs point to Kelly being on his way out, how does the White House pull the plug when it cannot get decent people hired, never mind retained and with a security clearance? Trump is going to create an opening at the very top? They couldn’t afford to lose the guy under the very top, Porter, according to Trumpers!

The White House has a significant problem. It crushed the true believers who stepped up to work with Trump initially; Bannons, Flynns, etc. None of them are left, the White House won’t take “outsiders” (people who might’ve been critical of Trump prior), and this is how Rob Porters become too valuable to fire. It’s also how Stephen Miller still has a job.


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