Pressure on White House chief of staff John Kelly was intensifying on Saturday after a series of missteps, most notably his defence of a senior official accused of domestic violence.
Ominously Donald Trump has been grumbling about Kelly’s performance and weighing up possible replacements, according to media reports.
Reports in the New York Times suggested that Kelly told staff on Friday he was willing to resign over his mishandling of the domestic violence allegations that led to staff secretary Rob Porter’s resignation, and that simultaneously Trump was now considering Mick Mulvaney, currently White House budget director and head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as a possible successor. But a third chief of staff in just over a year, along with the rapid turnover of other officials, would only fuel perceptions of mismanagement.
Observers used to hope that John Kelly would be able to tame Donald Trump. Now, the joke goes, they are hoping Donald Trump will be able to tame John Kelly.
“He’s really been a failure,” said Chris Whipple, author of The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency. “There were high expectations that, with such gravitas and authority, he would be the grownup in the room, smoothing the rough edges off the would-be authoritarian Trump. It’s been the opposite: Kelly has reinforced Trump’s worst instincts. Trump is a human wrecking ball and Kelly is his biggest enabler.”
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