So I have a theory. I mean, it’s really an extrapolation of lots of different people’s theories. But it goes like this: I think Trump has been trying like crazy to get rid of John Kelly almost since he hired him to be the chief-of-staff of the West Wing. I think Trump hired the man because he was a hardline conservative and a 4-Star General. Trump thought he was hiring on an old school badass, and Trump thought that it was what he wanted and needed at the time. And then, very quickly, Trump realized that it was in fact exactly what he needed, but NOT AT ALL what he wanted. You see, rumor around the watercooler is that Trump likes a yes man. In fact, when Trump and staff say that “Loyalty” is Trump’s most valued trait, I think what he really means is “submissive”. He wants people around him who will nod yes, and tell him how great his ideas are. More points to you if you can both agree with his ideas and actually help him accomplish them. But John Kelly is no one’s yes man. While Trump and Kelly might fall on the same side of the ideological divide, John Kelly, according to the folks in the know doesn’t suffer the kind of foolishness that Trump pulls, and apparently, he was never afraid to say so to Trump’s face. But the problem for Trump is that, unlike his TV personality would have you suggest, he’s not very good at firing people. You ever notice that when Trump wants to get rid of someone, the story accompanying it is how John Kelly would be the one to ask for a resignation? So when it came to getting rid of that Frosty old general, Trump didn’t have anyone to turn to in pulling that Trigger, and I’m guessing the only reason we’re seeing Kelly finally leave the picture is because he knows full well that sticking around may not be great for him in the long run. I dunno. Just a theory. But one I’d put money on.
Do you remember when “only the best and brightest” were going to be working at Donald Trump’s side as President? I know a lot of us kind of took that as a bad joke at first, but now a days, it’s like an ironic catchphrase we use as the executive branch implodes on itself. And now with John Kelly very publicly departing as Trump comes under more and more scrutiny, it seems like Trump is having a hard time even presenting the image of having a wealth of qualified candidates chomping at the bit to fill the seat. What’s worse, his number one pick, and indeed the guy who was offered the job, Nick Ayers (currently Mike Pence’s chief-of-staff) basically said “thanks but no thanks!” and is himself getting ready to depart the White House as the walls come tumbling down. Whoever Trump ends up choosing, they’re going to have to live under the stigma of knowing full well they weren’t his first choice. And I imagine that alone might keep a few people from taking the job. Whoever ends up in that position will likely have to deal with mounting legal threats and reputational woes that transcend their time in the White House, so I really have to wonder who is desperate enough to actually say yes.
So there is a news story floating around that is really tickling me. And I have to say upfront that I have no idea how true the crux of it is. The gist of the story is that John Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff, has been on Donald Trump’s bad side, but Trump is just not sure how to fire him. Indeed, the article notes that at one point Trump did “try” to fire him, but for all in intents and purposes, it just didn’t take, with Kelly effectively ignoring Trump. Which is just hilarious. Now again, this is one of those stories where I couldn’t tell you how true to life it is. The story was broke by New York Magazine, and I have generally found them to be fairly reputable, but again, there is always a question of veracity when it comes to uncorroborated, nameless administration officials inside the West Wing. But the story has a wonderful kind of poetic irony, where the man who is so famous for firing people that he turned it into his catchphrase, can’t seem to fire an actual employee. Indeed, according to the story, Trump seems to be looking for a surrogate who can effectively give Kelly the boot. But true story or not, it’s certainly a fun story to think about.
So Trump casually walked into an interview John Kelly was having with some reporters and decided to have an impromptu press conference, which is just a delight for everyone, I’m sure. You know that Trump just loves thinking that he is a conversational wizard, and can get the best out of any tete-a-tete with any reporters, even though he comes off sounding like a lunatic, and just makes more cleanup work for those around him. Welcome to the new normal.
Donald Trump reportedly calls Sean Hannity often after his show airs. This is what I imagine their conversations are like…