Tags: Trump Administration | Chief of Staff John Kelly | President Donald Trump

Politico: John Kelly's Role as Chief of Staff Unlike Those of His Predecessors

Image: Politico: John Kelly's Role as Chief of Staff Unlike Those of His Predecessors
Chief of Staff John Kelly (AP)

By    |   Saturday, 13 January 2018 08:47 AM

The role of White House chief of staff has traditionally been a position with the primary task of pushing an administration's agenda forward, but President Donald Trump's right-hand man, John Kelly, has been more likely to encounter messes to clean up in order to avert disaster, according to an expose Friday in Politico.

"If we end the day in neutral, it's a good day," Kelly is reported to have told close associates on several occasions.

Kelly came to the job of chief of staff after serving as Trump's secretary of Homeland Security, taking the place of Reince Priebus who left the position in July. A retired Marine general, Kelly has been able to impose discipline among West Wing staff.

Kelly "stopped aides from wandering in and out of the Oval Office, limited the information that makes its way to the president's desk, and dismissed underperforming staffers and those with vague or nonexistent duties," according to Politico.

"In the chief-of-staff job, you juggle the balls that you have to. But normally, you know what those balls are. Now, you have a president who keeps throwing new balls, so [Kelly] is constantly having to rejuggle," said Leon Panetta, who served as chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton.

The role of chief of staff has been called the second-most important position in government, often working to schedule the president's time and helping prioritize his agenda. But Kelly often works to keep Trump occupied and at arm's length from the inner workings of government, according to Politico.

While Kelly has succeeded in bringing discipline to Trump's West Wing, his background causes him to lack the know-how of how Capitol Hill works.

Kelly, described as a "remote and mysterious figure to most lawmakers," reportedly has a dim view of members of Congress, calling them "a bunch of idiots," as well as voicing frustration for the pace at which it takes legislation to be enacted, according to two White House aides.

This has been apparent in finding solutions for the Obama-era program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Trump ended the program in September, and Congress now faces a March deadline to act before it officially expires.

"Those idiots up there, it's going to be their fault if DACA doesn't happen," Kelly told colleagues in a recent meeting, two White House aides said.

This was also evident when Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said Kelly was a "disgrace to the uniform" following a meeting he had with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Kelly's quick response was to say lawmakers "have the luxury of saying what they want as they do nothing and have almost no responsibility."

"As my blessed mother used to say, 'empty barrels make the most noise,'" Kelly added.

"As a military officer and somebody who spent his life as a Marine, he had a lot of concerns about whether those in Congress are really committed to the country or to themselves," said Panetta.

"I think generally as an institution, he oftentimes raised questions about whether they were really committed to doing what they said they were going to," he added.

Panetta also suggested there needed to be a third position alongside Trump and Kelly "who has the experience to really work with the Congress and get these tough challenges worked on. I think that's what's missing."

Some close to Kelly suggest he is "less aware of his blind spots," maintaining his influence over the president has been "control with no purpose," because of his inexperience on domestic issues, according to the article.

"Almost every one of those chiefs went in there thinking that this was probably mission impossible for Trump's White House chief of staff, that this is a guy who is intellectually and temperamentally unfit for office," said Chris Whipple, author of "The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency."

"There's never been anybody like Donald Trump in the Oval Office, so from Day One it's been a challenge like no other for Kelly. Somebody really close to Trump told me this was like (Donald Trump's father) Fred Trump reaching from beyond the grave — John Kelly is the man Fred Trump always wanted Donald Trump to be."

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Though the role of White House chief of staff has traditionally been a position with the primary task was of pushing an administration's agenda forward, President Donald Trump's right-hand man, John Kelly, has been more likely to encounter messes to clean up in order to...
Chief of Staff John Kelly, President Donald Trump
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Saturday, 13 January 2018 08:47 AM
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