Yesterday, Donald Trump allegedly booted General John Kelly from an Air Force One flight at the last minute. This became more suspicious when the White House offered a non-realistic explanation for the incident. Then came word that Kelly may resign by the end of the week. Now, in what is not a coincidence, Kelly is suddenly embroiled in a hacking scandal which appears to have been designed to make him look bad.
This evening it’s leaked out that General Kelly was using a personal cellphone for government business on an at least occasional basis, and that the phone in question had been hacked (source: Politico). This story makes Kelly look negligent, both because he was improperly using a private phone, and because the phone was exhibiting symptoms of strange behavior for months, which should have tipped him off that something was wrong. But Kelly gave up the hacked phone at least a month ago. The real story here is that this scandal is just now leaking out after yesterday’s events – because there’s only one place the leak could be coming from.
Consider the sequence of events here. On Wednesday morning, John Kelly is suspiciously booted from Air Force One (source: Bloomberg). On Wednesday afternoon, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is asked about the incident, and responds with the bizarre excuse that Kelly is always on the manifest and simply didn’t get on that particular flight. Then on Wednesday afternoon, three sources say they expect Kelly to be gone from his job by the end of the week (source: Democratic Coalition). Then today, a month-old Kelly scandal suddenly and conveniently leaks to the media.
This phone hacking incident could only have been leaked by Donald Trump or his people; no one else would have known all of these details. The timing of the leak, one day after the the Air Force One incident and the buzz of Kelly’s potential resignation, cannot be a coincidence. It’s not yet clear if Trump is trying to soften the ground for booting Kelly out of a job, or if he’s merely trying to punish Kelly by publicly making him look bad. But it is clear that something is afoot.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report