In the five weeks since John Kelly became Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff, the retired Marine Corps General has ejected unstable staffers, imposed new controls on who can meet with the President, and restricted the news the President consumes. While Trump has expressed appreciation for the new sense of order, he has also, predictably, bridled against it.
Trump’s discontent has at least once led to a harsh outburst directed at Kelly. According to a new report from the New York Times, Kelly later told fellow staffers that he hadn’t been talked to that way in 35 years.
At the same time, President Trump has both publicly and privately praised Kelly and his changes, including telling aides that he now has “time to think.” But Trump – who doesn’t read news on the web, instead relying on TV and printouts of articles passed to him by aides – has also said he misses updates from Breitbart and The Daily Caller, far-right news outlets that Kelly has apparently removed from the mix.
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When Kelly was appointed, observers predicted that success in the role could breed resentment in Trump. According to the latest Times report, coauthored by Trump monitor nonpareil Maggie Haberman, Kelly has tried to take a light touch with the President, but has not been able to entirely maintain Trump’s enthusiasm for him. And Kelly was always a reluctant staffer, with some speculating that he regarded it as his patriotic duty to take the Chief of Staff role.
That mounting tension has led White House aides to wonder how much longer Kelly will remain in the role, with estimates ranging from one month to one year, despite there being no indication from Kelly himself that he plans to leave. Kelly’s only comment on the matter unearthed by the Times is that his new job is by far the hardest he has ever had.