Donald Trump has increasingly been freezing chief of staff and supposed “adult in the room” John Kelly out of major decisions, like hiring John Bolton as national security adviser and congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kelly’s efforts to keep Trump under control have blown back on him as Trump chafes and pouts and rages:
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.
What a child—Trump can’t even listen to Kelly tell him no and argue his case, or tell Kelly he’s being overruled. He just goes around him like a kid sneaking candy. Only in this case, the candy is a war-mongering bully of a national security adviser.
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.
Trump has resumed contact with former advisers like Corey Lewandowski, who Kelly banned from the White House, which means Trump is hearing from people with every reason to undermine Kelly. And of course precious golden son-in-law Jared Kushner can’t be too happy about Kelly having his temporary security clearance removed.
In short, Kelly may keep staggering along for a while, but he’s a dead man walking. Then again, the same could be said of basically everyone in the Trump White House—as soon as someone tells Trump no, or overshadows him, or fails to defend him rabidly enough on cable news, they’re marked. And the dirty secret of John Kelly is that it won’t matter much, because his “adult in the room” reputation was always wildly overblown and served to cover up his eager participation in some of the most hateful parts of Trump’s agenda.