Tag Archives: John Kelly

Omarosa: One of the ‘best people’?

OK, I believe it’s fair to ask: Did a former White House aide intend to torpedo the president of the United States who vowed to surround himself with the “best people”?

Omarosa Manigault Newman reportedly was a recording dervish during her time as a White House special assistant in the Donald Trump administration.

Newman lost her job when White House chief of staff John Kelly fired her; she recorded the event. Now we hear she has a recording of a conversation she had the next day with the president, who seems to not have known that Kelly had fired her.

How many more recordings are out there? Hey, I want to know this stuff, given that we’re talking about a presidential administration.

The president took office after vowing to populate his administration with the “best people” and using the “best words.”

Omarosa Manigault Newman, who had no government experience when she entered the West Wing, only knew Trump because of her participation on the “Celebrity Apprentice” TV show that Trump hosted. Oh, well, she had as much government exposure as the guy who hired her in the first place … right?

Wow, man! Something tells me the hits will just keep on coming.

Trump asks Kelly to stay as chief; we’ll see how it plays out

Donald J. Trump has asked John Kelly to stay on as White House chief of staff.

Kelly has agreed — reportedly — to remain at his post at least through the 2020 election.

This leaves me with decidedly mixed feelings. First of all, I admire Kelly at many levels. He is a former Marine Corps general. He’s a combat veteran, and a Gold Star father who lost his son in combat in Afghanistan. He is a no-nonsense guy who took over a White House post in serious disarray in the summer of 2017.

Kelly answers to a guy who is as unfit for the office of president as anyone can possibly be. Trump continues to baffle and befuddle his key aides, advisers and staffers. His Twitter tirades catch everyone by surprise. That includes Kelly.

I am having difficulty, thus, believing that Kelly will last through the 2020 election.

Can the chief stay the course?

We’ve all seen the video of Kelly reacting to the president’s berating German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the recent NATO meeting over her country’s natural gas deal with Russia; Trump said Germany is under Russia’s “total control,” causing Kelly to appear to look away in disgust at what Trump was saying.

It forces me to wonder: How many more times can Kelly endure this kind of idiocy pouring out of the president’s mouth?

The White House chief of staff job is stressful enough as it is. The job in the Donald Trump administration becomes an impossible task — especially for someone with the legendary discipline that a Marine Corps general-grade officer must possess.

WH press flack redefines rhetorical elusiveness

I am going to offer a tip of the hat — sort of — to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The White House press secretary is either (a) exceedingly quick on her feet or (b) gets a thorough briefing from other West Wing staffers on how to answer direct questions.

Sanders got a question today about Donald J. Trump’s answer when he was asked by a reporter whether he still thought Russia posed a threat to our electoral system, as it did in attacking it during the 2016 presidential election.

The president said “no.” He said Russia did not pose a threat.

Sanders got the question at the White House press briefing: Did the president really mean to say Russia was not trying to interfere in our midterm election?

She said the “no” response to the question was the president’s way of saying “no more questions” from the media.

Isn’t that clever? Slick? Cagey?

It’s also untrue.

Sanders trotted out that amazing response to chief of staff John Kelly’s visible body language while Trump — at the NATO meeting in Brussels — was scolding the Germans over their supposedly being under the “total control” of Russia. A reporter asked her about Kelly’s reaction. She said he was angry because he wanted a full breakfast, but instead got only “pastry and cheese.”

That, dear reader, is hilarious.

Except that I ain’t laughing. Neither should you. It’s deceptive. She’s lying for her boss.

Resignations should be forthcoming … but will they?

Jon Huntsman should resign immediately as U.S. ambassador to Russia.

John Kelly, the retired Marine Corps general, should hasten his departure and quit as White House chief of staff.

Dan Coats, the former Republican senator, should quit as director of national intelligence.

John Bolton, newly installed as national security adviser, needs to quit, too.

These individuals all have been tossed under the proverbial bus by the president of the United States. Donald J. Trump managed during that jaw-dropping press conference with Vladimir Putin to castigate the U.S. intelligence agencies that have determined Russia attacked our system of government.

Trump has undermined U.S. diplomacy. He has denigrated our intelligence-gathering process. He has weakened the nation he pledged to defend and to strengthen. He has demonstrated a level of ignorance, arrogance and acquiescence that none of us thought would be possible in the president of the United States.

It is enough for Vladimir Putin, the former KGB boss — the top spook in the Evil Empire — to deny doing what the intelligence agencies said he did. Yep, Donald Trump takes Putin at his word, which is about as credible as anything that flies out of the president’s mouth.

I am not holding my breath for any resignations to be forthcoming.

Maybe, though, there might be some spine-stiffening taking place at this very moment.

WH chief of staff angry over breakfast menu? Wow!

Sarah Huckabee Sanders has just notched my all-time favorite lame response from the White House press office.

It’s a beaut, man!

White House chief of staff John Kelly was seen grimacing, looking at the floor and fidgeting while sitting two seats away from the president, who was lambasting Germany over what Donald Trump contended was Russia’s total control over our strategic ally.

The person next to Kelly, U.S. North Atlantic Treaty Organization ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison — the former U.S. senator from Texas — was seen looking around as if to suggest she’d rather be anywhere other than where she was at the moment.

As the New York Daily News reported: As Trump laid into Germany, Kelly pursed his lips, looked down and appeared generally uncomfortable. Kelly seemed particularly unsettled when Trump made the “captive” comment, firmly pressing his lips together and staring off into the distance.

Someone then asked Sanders about Kelly’s apparently visceral response, that some had interpreted as extreme discomfort over what he was hearing from the president.

Sanders’s response? She said Kelly “was displeased because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese.”

Isn’t that a great retort? Doesn’t that qualify for entry into the press secretaries’ hall of shame for lame responses?

It’s got my vote. To be candid, I thought Sanders’s response to the question was quite, um, creative.

Stand tall, Sarah.

Too many generals around Trump? Maybe, but then again …

A former Joint Chiefs chairman says he is concerned that Donald J. Trump has surrounded himself with too many generals.

Retired Navy Admiral Mike Mullen — who served as Joint Chiefs chairman under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama — said that Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly, two former U.S. Marine Corps generals, lack “political experience.” The same can be said, according to Mullen, about former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who is an active-duty U.S. Army lieutenant general.

“Jim Mattis, and John Kelly and H.R. McMaster are not politicians, but they’re operating in this political world inside the White House,” Mullen said. “It is a tough, difficult, political environment.”

OK, I get Mullen’s concern.

I’m not sure he needs to be overly concerned. I look at the generals’ presence a little differently. These men all have combat experience, which means they understand the consequences of war. It’s been said that warriors quite often are the last individuals who want to go to war. They know too well the grief and misery it brings.

Admiral Mullen perhaps ought to be more concerned that the commander in chief is reluctant to listen the best advice he gets from those “best people” with whom he pledged to bring aboard his administrative team.

This POTUS is totally untrustworthy … period!

White House chief of staff John Kelly sought to tamp down concerns among his colleagues by telling them there are no more staff changes on the horizon.

How does this man know this? I am going to presume — at my own risk, of course — that Donald J. Trump has told him so.

Kelly then relayed what might be assurances from the president that everyone in the White House can settle down now. Relax. Go about doing their jobs. No worries about their futures or their bosses’ futures.

Except for this: How does anyone trust a single word, let alone sentence, that flies out of Donald Trump’s mouth?

Trump has demonstrated a penchant for unpredictability. Doesn’t he brag about it, along with his sexual prowess and how smart he is? Doesn’t he say that unpredictability enhances his effectiveness as president of the United States?

So, with all that established, does it make any sense at all to take a single thing this guy says? How does one take his utterances at face value? How does one trust someone who lies with absolutely no concern over its consequences?

It might be that Kelly is trying to put as positive a face as he can on the chaos that has erupted yet again inside the West Wing. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s firing came without warning to Tillerson — or anyone else, for that matter. Trump told Tillerson the way he told the rest of the world: via Twitter. Classy, yes? Umm. No!

So now we hear from the White House chief of staff that there are no more firings upcoming.

Let’s all wait until, oh, the sun comes up in the morning.

Tomorrow’s a new day. A new set of crises awaits a stir-crazy nation. That’s how the president likes to operate. Or so he says.

Gowdy poses relevant question to White House

Trey Gowdy is a South Carolina Republican U.S. House member who’s planning to leave Congress at the end of the year.

He’s not done asking relevant questions. Gowdy has one for the White House.

How did Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary who quit after allegations of spousal abuse surfaced, operate without the proper security clearance for as long as he did?

Gowdy has posed the question to White House chief of staff John Kelly, who’s supposed to keep track of such things. Porter worked with an “interim” clearance, even though he had been accused by two former wives of beating them up.

I’ve always thought that such a rap would disqualify someone from gaining access to the kind of documents that Porter was allowed to handle. Rep. Gowdy wants to know how this happened in a White House that is supposed to run — in the words of the president — like a “fine-tuned machine.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray also has testified that the FBI knew long ago about Porter’s alleged domestic trouble, which has shot holes in Kelly’s assertion that the White House was blindsided by the allegations.

I believe Gen. Kelly has some explaining to do.

Kelly’s a downer; Trump is worse

Political junkies such as yours truly are writing about White House chiefs of staff lately. The trials, troubles and travails of John Kelly have elevated this post to the top of our minds.

Seriously, though, Kelly only deserves part of the blame for what ails the White House these days.

The main source of the difficulty rests with the man who sits behind the big ol’ desk in the Oval Office. Donald Trump’s the Public Culprit No. 1.

Kelly is unlikely to last much longer as chief of staff, no matter what he says about his desire to stay on the job or what the president says about his faith in the job Kelly is doing. This Rob Porter matter is threatening to swallow Gen. Kelly whole. Indeed, Kelly — a retired Marine Corps four-star general — has made a mess of the controversy surrounding Porter’s alleged spouse-beating.

The question has to center now on who would want the job after Kelly departs. Who, indeed, would subject himself to the whims and whimsy of the president?

Trump doesn’t take guidance well. He wants to be his own man. I can’t blame him for that, except that as president he needs a chief of staff who’ll tell him the truth, even when it hurts. Kelly apparently can’t do that.

Successful White House chiefs of staff — men such as James Baker III, Leon Panetta, Dick Cheney come to mind — have employed considerable political expertise to tell the presidents they served when they were making a mistake. I’m trying to imagine John Kelly delivering that kind of advice to Donald Trump. I can’t get there.

Trump operates in a constant state of chaos. He is tempestuous by nature. He relishes conflict. How can a president function successfully when his world is full of tumult and tension? He cannot. It’s that clear and simple.

So it now becomes a question of who is going to sign on to be the 45th president’s next whipping boy?

Donald Trump promised he would surround himself with “the best people.” The best of the best has to be the individual who runs the White House. Good luck finding someone to fill that bill.

Gen. Kelly: in over his head

It pains me to say this, but here goes.

John Kelly is in over his head as White House chief of staff. However, it’s not entirely his fault. I have concluded that Kelly should resign and try to the best of his ability to salvage his reputation.

Kelly took over as chief of staff after Reince Priebus was shoved out the door. The thought — which I shared at the time — was that the retired Marine Corps general would whip the staff into shape. He would make ’em toe the line. He would bark orders and they would follow.

Here, though, is where that theory broke down: Two issues make it impossible for that to happen. The chief of staff needs political skill; Kelly’s Marine Corps training didn’t provide it. What’s more, the president of the United States also needs political skill; Donald Trump’s history as a self-aggrandizing business mogul and reality TV celebrity damn sure didn’t give him that skill, either.

Kelly has now been caught in a vise. Rob Porter quit as staff secretary in the White House after revelations that he beat up his former wives and a former girlfriend. He didn’t have the proper security clearance because the FBI was examining complaints against him that surfaced months ago. Yet he was hired anyway. Kelly knew all that and let it ride.

Kelly reportedly kept it secret from the president. That’s another no-no.

The conventional wisdom all along has been that the 45th president presents a unique set of circumstances that no one has seen before. He possesses zero political expertise. Yes, he waged a successful presidential campaign, of which he is more than happy to keep reminding us. But campaigning and governing are entirely different disciplines. Trump was a stellar campaigner but there is no one within his inner circle who can tell this individual the hard truth about the political implications of the decisions he makes.

Thus, the president is left to function on his own in an environment with which he has no previous exposure.

Gen. Kelly was supposed to provide him some cover. He hasn’t done it. He won’t be able to do it for as long as he occupies the chief of staff’s office.

The Rob Porter mess is only getting messier. John Kelly appears incapable of cleaning it up. The White House message machine is confused and chaotic.

Moreover, the White House communications director, Hope Hicks, has become a key player in that melodrama. Hicks is dating Porter. Yet she helped draft the statement that declared how her boyfriend is such an honorable man? Who in the world allowed her to put her hands on that statement? None other than John Kelly, who should have recognized immediately the conflict of interest that Hicks presented.

Gen. Kelly has served this country with high honor and distinction — as a decorated Marine! Hardly any of that background transfers to the White House chief of staff job.

The question now becomes, in the event Gen. Kelly calls it quits: Who in the world is Donald John Trump able to find who can perform the duties required of a White House chief of staff?

For that matter, who in the world would want that job, given the idiocy that emanates from the Oval Office?