General John Kelly stepped to the White House podium today and announced “I’m not quitting today.” Then, when asked, he said he didn’t think Donald Trump would fire him today either. Nothing was said about tomorrow or the next day. It was just the latest hint at how badly things have deteriorated between Trump and Kelly. Now comes word that things are even worse behind the scenes than imagined.
The relationship between Trump and Kelly has become so toxic that they’ve been reduced to communicating through “shouting matches” according to an explosive quote buried all the way down in the seventh paragraph of an otherwise mundane Los Angeles Times article (link). No further details have been given about these shouting matches, but they stand out as being extraordinary. We’re talking about the (supposed) President of the United States and his White House Chief of Staff standing there screaming at each other in the Oval Office. It’s not how any of this is supposed to work – and it’s one of many signs that this is about to unravel.
Yesterday, Kelly decided to ship off his own longtime top deputy Kirstjen Nielsen to become the new DHS Secretary. It seems bizarre for Kelly to be willing to part ways with his right hand woman at a time when he needs all the help he can get in Trump’s crumbling White House – unless he was just making sure she had a new job lined up, because he’s expecting to resign or get fired.
John Kelly clearly went to the podium today to try to appease Donald Trump. He seems to be trying to find a way to fix this, so he doesn’t end up getting fired or concluding he has to walk away. Considering that Trump is mentally incompetent, there’s no way of predicting whether or not it worked. Trump likes to fire people on Friday afternoons, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report