December 8, 2018


John Kelly, Trump's Chief of Staff, to Leave White House (Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, Dec. 8, 2018, NY Times)

While Mr. Trump is eager for Mr. Ayers to join that list, it is unclear whether the aide, who lacks experience in government beyond his stint with Mr. Pence, is what the president needs in the top West Wing post as he heads into what allies expect will be the most tumultuous year yet of his presidency. [...]

When it became clear that Mr. Trump, who has an unusual affinity for Mr. Ayers, was leaning toward him to replace Mr. Kelly, several top aides told the president that they took issue with it and that it could lead to a staff exodus.

If Mr. Ayers accepts the job, his appointment would be seen inside the White House as a coup for Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, and her husband, Jared Kushner, who clashed with Mr. Kelly and are seen as close to Mr. Ayers. The view inside is that they are now "running the building," one of the president's allies said. [...]

Mr. Kelly's departure is expected to have a ripple effect across the upper echelons of the West Wing staff, as well as in Mr. Trump's cabinet. One of the biggest question marks is the fate of Kirstjen M. Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security. Ms. Nielsen has clashed repeatedly with Mr. Trump, and at times relied on Mr. Kelly, who was previously her boss at the agency, to defend her.

For weeks, Mr. Trump has been offering her position to other people. At one point, Mr. Trump even broached the possibility that Thomas P. Bossert, a former homeland security adviser, would return and run the agency. But Mr. Bossert, who was forced out of the administration after John R. Bolton became national security adviser, made it clear he would not accept the position.

The ceaseless West Wing backbiting that captures headlines has belied the reality of working there, which is that aides form tight cliques and burrow into those friendships to endure the chaos of the work environment.

Other protégés of Mr. Kelly like Zachary D. Fuentes, the deputy chief of staff, are also seen as particularly vulnerable without Mr. Kelly in the top job. Mr. Fuentes, who has earned ridiculing nicknames, including "Zotus" (a play on Potus, short for president of the United States) and "prime minister," for his large ego, has already approached other departments in the administration for a position, but has cultivated few allies. Mr. Trump continues to blame him and Mr. Kelly for letting him miss a World War I battlefield commemoration outside Paris because of bad weather.

The White House communications office, which Mr. Trump has complained about for two years, is also set to undergo a restructuring. The overlap in officials has bred chronic confusion. 

Because of his personality and politics, Donald began his presidency with incompetents manning every cabinet department and the chief aide positions.  And as things have deteriorated and the jobs became even more undesirable the quality has gone even further downhill--in January 1 there will be no one in the Administration who anyone thinks could be an effective president in his own right.  [Contrast with W, in particular, who had Rumsfeld, Cheney, Ashcroft, etc.]

As Impeachment/indictment gears up, he needs not just a first-rate legal team and political shop but staff he can leave governance too.  He has none of the three. 

Posted by at December 8, 2018 6:39 PM