Rod Rosenstein told the White House two weeks ago in a February 9 call that there were additional snags in getting Jared Kushner’s security clearance, which were going to cause more delay in finalizing the clearance. That was before John Kelly’s memo last week which said that all interim top secret clearances would be terminated as of February 23.
Donald Trump said that he was leaving the decision about what to do about Kushner’s clearance up to Kelly and wasn’t going to get involved. So, is the White House Chief of Staff going to pull son-in-law Kushner’s clearance? He might; or he might encourage Jarvanka to get out of Dodge altogether because he wouldn’t be bothered if they did. Washington Post:
Kelly has told associates that he is uncomfortable with Kushner’s uncertain security clearance status and his unique role as both a family member and staffer, according to people familiar with the conversations. He has said he would not be upset if the president’s son-in-law and his wife, Ivanka Trump, left their positions as full-time employees.
On Friday, Trump said he would defer the question of Kushner’s access to his chief of staff.
“I will let General Kelly make that decision, and he’s going to do what’s right for the country,” the president said during a news conference. “And I have no doubt that he will make the right decision.”
In a statement about Kushner issued earlier this week, Kelly said he had “full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico.
If Jared’s an integral part of our relationship with Mexico, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago is on danger of being rescinded. The Mexican people hate Donald Trump. Just ask former President of Mexico Vicente Fox:
Chief of Staff John Kelly "would not be upset" if Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump quit their jobs at the White House, according to a report from the Washington Post. https://t.co/E8rVDnJXIP
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 24, 2018
John Kelly was never crazy about Jarvanka being on the White House staff, particularly when Trump wanted to make Jared Secretary of State. Michael Wolff, In Michael Wolff’s book, ‘Fire and Fury:”‘
‘General Kelly had Jared and Ivanka on his agenda – how the president saw their role; what he thought was working and not working about it; how he envisioned it going forward. It was all intended to be a politic way of opening a discussion about getting them out,’ Wolff wrote.
But the president was, Kelly soon learned, delighted with all aspects of their performance in the West Wing. Maybe at some point Jared would become secretary of state – that was the only change the president seemed to foresee.
The most Kelly could do was to get the president to acknowledge that the couple should be part of a greater organizational discipline in the West Wing and should not so readily jump in the line.’
It’s known that Ivanka has been looking to replace Kelly. Did Kelly make the mistake of his career accepting this White House post? Eliot Cohen’s critique in The Atlantic at the time Kelly was named has held up remarkably well:
There was a reason why he spent 42 years on active duty rather than run for mayor of Boston. He probably already knows, but if not he will soon learn, that he will be as dispensable as his predecessor, that Trump hates any of his subordinates being too powerful or too visible. And worst of all, he will soon find himself wrestling with the moral corruption that being close to this man entails. You cannot work directly for Trump while adhering to a code of honesty, integrity, and lawfulness. Sooner or later Kelly will have to defend the White House’s jabber about “fake news,” “alternative facts,” and “witch hunts.” He will have to ascribe to Trump virtues that he does not possess, and deny the moral lapses and quite possibly the crimes that he has committed.
‘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,” Sherman writes. “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. ” Umm, but does he watch TV while Kelly runs things? Shh, don’t say it out loud. In truth, no semi-competent person with a modicum of integrity is going to last very long — or take the job in the first place — in this White House.
Kelly’s public life is most probably going to end ignominiously. Maybe he’ll surprise us. Then again, maybe he won’t. It will be interesting to see who’s standing at the end of the week, Trump’s children, or his Chief of Staff.