Tag Archives: White House chief of staff

Say it ain’t so, Gen. Kelly

Of all the people among Donald Trump’s closest advisers, the one I admire the most might be headed for some serious trouble.

The question being posed for White House chief of staff John Kelly is this: What did he know about former staff secretary Rob Porter’s alleged assault on two former wives and when did he know it? Yes, I am appropriating the famous question from the late, great GOP Sen. Howard Baker during the Watergate scandal, but it surely applies today.

Kelly, the retired Marine general who came in to whip the White House staff into shape, is being examined over the timing of what he knew about Porter’s alleged abuse of his former wives. White House press flacks say Kelly only was “fully aware” a few days ago; but media are reporting that Gen. Kelly was made aware months ago when Porter was first hired as one of the president’s closest advisers.

Which is it, Gen. Kelly? Did you know early on or were you oblivious to what others around you reportedly knew?

Yes, Gen. Kelly has disappointed me in recent months. I had high hopes that he would guide Donald Trump toward a more reasoned, nuanced course as president. Sadly, it appears that he has followed Trump’s lead in denying accusations and calling accusers liars.

However, I still admire the service Kelly has given to our country and I hope he’s truthful, that he didn’t know about Porter’s criminal behavior until just the other day.

I do know that hope too often loses to reality.

POTUS scars sacred ground

The president of the United States has zero political instincts when it comes to the decorum of his high office.

Consider what he’s now doing to politicize the deaths of fallen American warriors. Donald John Trump has declared falsely that previous presidents haven’t bothered to send letters to Gold Star families, or to call them, or offer a nation’s gratitude.

His latest epic lie has drawn strong responses from the three men who preceded him immediately in the office: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Aides for all three men have condemned the president’s specious claim that their bosses didn’t do what Trump has said he has done.

Good grief! Can this man ever find a way to conduct himself with a semblance of dignity? Can he ever learn how decorum matters as it involves the presidency of the United States of America?

Trump dishonors military

To make matters worse, if that’s possible, he decided to drag the memory of White House chief of staff John Kelly into this atrocious dispute. The president wondered on Fox News Rado if President Obama ever called Kelly when his son died in battle. According to The Associated Press:

Then Trump stirred things further Tuesday on Fox News Radio, saying, “You could ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?”
John Kelly, a Marine general under Obama, is Trump’s chief of staff. His son, Marine 2nd Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. John Kelly was not seen at Trump’s public events Tuesday.

John Kelly reportedly sought to keep his son’s memory out of the current political dispute. The president, of course, demonstrated his tin ear and blabbed out loud about Lt. Kelly’s death anyway.

Disgraceful.

Congressman goes beyond the pale in this attack

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez needs to chill out. He needs to take a breath. He needs to rethink the insult he hurled at one of Donald Trump’s more celebrated and worthy appointees.

The Illinois Democrat is angry that the president decided to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order signed by President Barack Obama. He’s so angry that he said that White House chief of staff John Kelly has “disgraced the uniform he used to wear” by enabling the president to rescind this order.

I have two words for Rep. Gutierrez: Shut. Up.

I will stipulate first of all that I agree that the DACA rescission is a mistake. I wish the president had not done it. I believe DACA rules are humane, in that they protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children illegally by their parents; many of them know no other country than the United States of America. They deserve a clear and unfettered path to citizenship or permanent legal immigrant status.

But to say that Kelly — a retired Marine Corps general and a Gold Star father whose son was killed in combat in Afghanistan — goes far beyond what is decent and honorable.

I get that Gutierrez is emotional about immigration reform. He feels it in his gut. But let’s put the hyper-heated and defamatory rhetoric in cold storage while we discuss DACA, shall we?

Oh, one more thing: Luis Gutierrez’s own military service? None.

That didn’t take long

Media are reporting possible big shakeups within the White House high command.

The White House — no surprise here — is denying it. Yet the signs seem to be unmistakable.

Senior strategist Steven Bannon has lost his job on the National Security Council. He’s fighting with Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus appears to be his way out … along with Bannon.

Trump’s White House flack machine no doubt is considering all this to be “fake news.”

But is it?

Trump’s executive machinery has been creaking along ever since the president took office. There can be no doubt about what we’ve all witnessed.

Shakeup taking shape in White House

At some level, the notion that Priebus would be placed into some kind of shakeup bubble troubles me. I’ve considered Priebus — the former Republican Party national chairman — to be one of the few grownups Trump brought in. But he might be shown the door. Why? My guess is that he cannot stop the reports of palace intrigue within the White House.

Chiefs of staff are supposed to keep a tight rein on everyone else within the West Wing. That’s how the best of them function. Jim Baker did so within the Bush 41 administration; Dick Cheney ran a tight ship during the Ford administration.

Trump, though, brings a whole new dynamic to executive branch governance. He has surrounded himself with amateurs in many posts. Yes, he has some fine men and women serving in his Cabinet.

This notion, though, of putting his son-in-law — not to mention his own daughter, Ivanka — in the middle of policy decisions creates a tension that goes far beyond the “creative” kind that can work in an executive’s favor.

The president has just encountered his first major foreign policy crisis and answered it with clarity and precision with the air strikes against Syrian targets. He’ll need strong, steady leadership and counsel within his top White House staff if he is going to move forward.

If he’s going to shake things up in the West Wing, he’d better do it quickly and tell his flacks to stop denying the increasingly obvious.

Is this how you ‘unify’ the nation? I think not

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2013 file photo, Executive Producer Stephen Bannon poses at the premiere of "Sweetwater" during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Republican Donald Trump is overhauling his campaign again, bringing in Breitbart News' Bannon as campaign CEO and promoting pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager. Trump told The Associated Press in a phone interview early Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016, that he has known both individuals for a long time. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP, File)

Steve Bannon is about to become one of the new president’s closest advisers.

Big deal? Uh, yeah! It’s a real big deal.

Donald J. Trump has┬ádone two things that are fundamentally at odds with each other. The president-elect vows to “unify” the country torn asunder by one of the most acrid — and putrid — presidential campaigns in its history.

Then he picks someone like Bannon to become his chief political adviser in the White House. Bannon is a virtually avowed white supremacist who ran the Breitbart News outfit before joining the Trump campaign this summer as its chief political strategist.

Bannon’s views about Muslims, gays, immigrants, African-Americans and other racial minorities are well-known. They are ugly, pernicious and totally unacceptable in someone who is advising the president of the United States of America.

Trump is about to become president of a nation that perhaps is more divided than at any time since, oh, the Civil War!

How in the name of all that is holy does the president-elect put someone of Bannon’s ilk in the West Wing of the White House, the people’s house?

Trump selected as well a White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, who has been generally praised. Tradition holds that the chief of staff is the second most powerful person in the White House. Trump, though, said that Bannon and Priebus will work in tandem, with co-equal clout between them.

This is how you unify a nation?

The president-elect is sending precisely the wrong message.