How many times have you seen this headline? It feels like Trump’s Chief of Staff has been “on the way out” since shortly after taking the position over from Reince Priebus. This week most of the major news outlets had it from “anonymous sources” that the end was definitely near this time. Personally, I wasn’t going to believe it until we heard it from one them, but after the Army-Navy game, the President made it official. John Kelly will be departing by the end of the year. (USA Today)
Former White House chief of staff John Kelly, who was assigned to bring a level of discipline to President Donald Trump’s often chaotic administration, is leaving the post after months of internal tensions increasingly spilled into view, Trump said Saturday.
“John Kelly will be leaving toward the end of the year,” the president told reporters as he left the White House for the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia.
While the two men have clashed in recent months, Trump called Kelly “a great guy.”
Considering all of the wrath and acrimony that’s supposedly been going on in Kelly’s office as well as Trump’s, it seems almost charitable for the President to call Kelly “a great guy.” You can’t help but wonder how long that’s going to last, though. I’m guessing it will mostly depend on how many (if any) interviews the General decides to do between now and then or after he’s officially out. Being an old-school military guy, I can picture him holding his tongue and just quietly returning to private life.
So if the President is saying he’ll be naming a replacement “in a few days” you can bet he’s already got somebody in mind. There’s a lot of buzz around Nick Ayers (the Vice President’s Chief of Staff) being the pick, which would probably have some heads exploding in the press briefing room. But that largely depends on if Ayers actually wants to move up and if Pence is willing to let him go.
For an exit question, I would pose the following thought for you. All the things that Donald Trump supposedly doesn’t like about Kelly’s style are the things most presidents take for granted. These include keeping something of a check on access to the Oval Office and keeping control of the messaging from day to day. Kelly was reportedly doing those things for a while after he arrived, at least until Trump rebelled. If he’s going to be replaced by someone who will just “let Trump be Trump” (to steal a line from an old West Wing episode), why have a Chief of Staff at all? I have to wonder if the President isn’t seriously considering just leaving the job vacant and running the circus himself.