President Trump is returning to what made him a billionaire. Following his gut, clearing the path for his own agenda, and Chief of Staff John Kelly may end up being the latest member of the White House staff on the unemployment line.
For example, when Trump tapped John Bolton to be his next national security adviser, Kelly wasn’t in the room.
Then when Trump spent a Mar-a-Lago weekend stewing over immigration and trade, Kelly was nowhere to be seen.
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.
Emboldened in his job, Trump has rebelled against Kelly’s restrictions and mused about doing away with the chief of staff post entirely. It’s all leading White House staffers and Trump allies to believe that Kelly is working on borrowed time.
Trump has been governing at breakneck pace over the last several weeks, ousting useless aides and issuing surprise policy announcements on Twitter, recreating the helter-skelter feel of his first months in office.
Kelly’s allies maintain that his retreat is strategic. They suggest that the belief that Kelly was Trump’s savior was an overstated idea all along and that the chief of staff is now content to loosen the reins and allow an increasingly comfortable president to govern from his gut, AP News reports.
But those close to the president say that Trump has increasingly expressed fatigue at Kelly’s attempts to shackle him and that while Trump is not ready to fire Kelly, he has begun gradually freezing out his top aide.
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, according to a person who was not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
In Trump’s West Wing, once the rumors begin that an aide’s exit is forthcoming, the “stink” on that staffer never leaves, according to one of the nearly dozen White House aides, former administration officials and outside advisers who spoke to The Associated Press under the same conditions.
The president also has cast aside the constraints the retired four-star Marine general tried to place on Trump about whom he could see and speak to. Those restrictions led shunned advisers to try to undermine the chief of staff in the press and with Trump. For months, former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was barred from the White House, only to return when Kelly was overruled by Trump, according to four White House aides and outside advisers.
Many in the West Wing believed that Kelly’s attempts to curtail Trump’s interactions with Lewandowski, as well as Trump allies such as David Bossie and Anthony Scaramucci, were always destined to fail and alienate the president, who has privately contemplated recreating the freewheeling nature of his campaign and Trump Tower office. Kelly also has clashed with Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who had his security clearance downgraded after a policy change written by the chief of staff.
Some White House aides contend that Kelly has been intentionally giving Trump more leeway to be himself and that Kelly recognizes that’s what Trump wants. But allies acknowledged Kelly’s receding power and said he’s trying to keep his head down and focus on policy, such as the plan to mobilize the National Guard along the U.S. border with Mexico.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
April 6th, 2018