White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has reportedly sort of given up on any hope of shaping Donald Trump’s presidency. He’s now just running out the clock.
Eliana Johnson and Annie Karni at Politico reported late Monday that the retired Marine Corps general and Trump are “barely tolerating one another,” and that Kelly has even resigned himself to the possibility of Trump being impeached:
Less than a year ago, when Kelly replaced Reince Priebus as chief of staff in July 2017, there were high hopes that he would be able to rein in the president and streamline the White House’s processes. He restricted access to Trump, sought to bring order to the Oval Office chaos, and even reportedly has the president on his toes; according to Axios last year, this caused the president to “pick up his game by acting sharper in meetings and even rattling off stats” in an effort to impress Kelly.
But whatever hopes there were for Kelly, or whatever aspirations Kelly had for himself, appear to have dissipated. Kelly has reportedly become so disengaged that he’s taken to making his gym trips a daytime event. Per Politico:
John Kelly has not lived up to the hype
In spite of the chatter when Kelly was brought in that he would serve as some sort of Trump wrangler and the “adult in the room” amid the political amateurs, the retired general has often struggled in his position and has become embroiled in a number of scandals.
In October of last year, Kelly made false claims about Rep. Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) behavior during a dedication ceremony for a new FBI office in Miami in an effort to discredit her criticism of the president’s treatment of a war widow. In February, he defended former White House staff secretary Rob Porter despite credible allegations of domestic violence by two of Porter’s ex-wives.
Kelly has reportedly derided the president in private and, according to NBC News, has often called Trump an “idiot” while criticizing his lack of grasp on policy and government. In James Comey’s book A Higher Loyalty, the former FBI director said Kelly called him when he was fired and told him he was “sick” over the matter and referred to Trump as “dishonorable.”
Kelly’s comments on immigration have also raised eyebrows, even before the family separation crisis at the border. Earlier this year, he said immigrants who hadn’t signed up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) were either too afraid to sign up or “were too lazy to get off their asses.”
In March 2017, when he was early in his tenure as DHS secretary, he forecast the Trump administration’s family separation tactic, saying in an interview that separating kids from their parents if they crossed the border illegally would be necessary “in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network.” He then shrugged at the consequences of the policy in an interview with NPR in May: “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever,” he said.