Donald Trump may have originally referred to John Kelly affectionately as “Chief” but that sentiment has been eroding for some time. Kelly calling Trump “uninformed” to Democratic lawmakers was blasphemy, and then Kelly elevated it to heresy when he repeated the same thing on Fox News. Trump is looking to replace Kelly and he’s put daughter Ivanka in charge of the search for a new Chief of Staff. Gabriel Sherman, Vanity Fair:
Trump’s anger at Kelly’s immigration comments is the latest flare-up in a relationship that has been deteriorating for months. A four-star marine general, Kelly was never going to be an easy fit in a West Wing with a Lord of the Flies office culture. Staffers have bristled at Kelly’s rectitude, nicknaming him “the Church Lady,” a former official said.
Trump has increasingly been chafing at the media narrative that he needs Kelly to instill discipline on his freewheeling management style. “The more Kelly plays up that he’s being the adult in the room—that it’s basically combat duty and he’s serving the country—that kind of thing drives Trump nuts,” a Republican close to the White House said. In recent days, Trump has fumed to friends that Kelly acts like he’s running the government while Trump tweets and watches television. “I’ve got another nut job here who thinks he’s running things,” Trump told one friend, according to a Republican briefed on the call. A second source confirmed that Trump has vented about Kelly, mentioning one call in which Trump said, “This guy thinks he’s running the show.” (A White House official said “it’s categorically false that Trump is unhappy with Kelly. “He’s only ever referred to him as the general, tough, can be rough, and commands respect.)
Ivanka is reportedly considering lobbyist David Urban, who worked on the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania. “Ivanka is the most worried about it. She’s trying to figure who replaces Kelly,” an anonymous source said.
Kelly’s departure likely isn’t imminent, sources said. “He wants to stay longer than Reince [Priebus],” an outside adviser said. Trump can also hardly afford another high-level staff departure, which would trigger days of negative news cycles. “This could be like [Jeff] Sessions,” one of the Republicans explained, referring to Trump’s festering frustration about not being able to replace his attorney general.
Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Preibus was a long time on the hot seat and every holiday used to become a referendum on his tenure. Not even Preibus abasing himself drooling all over Trump in a Cabinet meeting kept his job safe. Kelly has likewise abased himself, even worse than Preibus, by calling Congresswoman Frederica Wilson an “empty barrel,” confirming himself as a racist and Trump toady. Now Ivanka’s on board to save the day and this is going to get amusing.