It’s generally accepted that Donald Trump is not at all pleased with the discipline John Kelly is trying to impose in the White House.
And you don’t have to buy into the gossip, the “palace intrigue,” or take anonymous sources at their word to believe that.
In fact, it seems like most Trump supporters would know, intuitively, that the President is uncomfortable with someone like Kelly deciding what he can and can’t read and who he can and can’t call and most importantly, what he can and can’t say.
After all, isn’t that why Trump’s base supported him in the first place? He was “an outsider” that would “drain the swamp” and wrest control of the nation from the liberals and the neocons and give it back to “the people.” I mean wasn’t that part and parcel of Steve Bannon’s raison d’être?
So when you read tweets like the one shown below, do note that not only does it have a “the lady doth protest too much, methinks” feel to it, it’s inconsistent with the whole idea of what a “Donald Trump” is – because one thing a “Donald Trump” is not, is someone who enjoys discipline…
Again, that’s ridiculous. Of course he’s not “impressed” (unless it’s with the balls on someone who dares to try and rein in “The Donald”) and he goddamn sure isn’t “happy.”
Well in light of that, consider the following from a WaPo piece out last night:
Aides say Trump admires Kelly’s credentials, respects his leadership and management skills, and praises him often, both in private meetings and at public events. In a tax policy speech Wednesday in Missouri, Trump singled out Kelly’s work to decrease the number of illegal border crossings when he was secretary of homeland security.
Meanwhile, people close to the president said he is simmering with displeasure over what he considers personal disloyalty from National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who criticized Trump’s responses to a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. He also has grown increasingly frustrated with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has clashed with the president on issues including Afghanistan troop levels, the blockade on Qatar and Cuba policy.
So that seems consistent with the idea that Trump is ok with Kelly, although it also underscores the extent to which he hates Tillerson (remember this?) and now thinks Cohn is out to get him. But wait, there’s more on Kelly. Here’s WaPo again:
Trump was especially angered by something he learned earlier in the day [before his Phoenix rally], at a border visit in Yuma, Ariz., several of his associates said.
A group of Border Patrol agents who had endorsed him and become campaign-trail buddies initially were blocked by the Trump administration from attending. Although the agents eventually were allowed into the event, the president made his displeasure about their treatment known to Kelly, said people who were briefed about the incident. Two of those people said Trump raised his voice with his chief of staff, whom he faulted for trying to restrict outside friends from having direct access to him.
That evening in Phoenix, Trump attempted to call Kelly onto the stage. “Where’s John?” he asked. “Where is he? Where’s General Kelly? Get him out here. He’s great. He’s doing a great job.”
Kelly did not join his boss in front of the crowd.
Ok, and here’s where it gets particularly amusing:
Friends used to be able to call the White House and be patched directly through to Trump; now those calls are routed through Kelly and do not always make it to the president. Friends used to drop by the West Wing when they had time to kill, wandering to the Oval Office to say hello; now they must have an official appointment — and a clear reason — to visit.
The changes are largely welcomed by senior administration officials, who say the president’s time is too valuable to be wasted on chitchat and hangers-on.
But Trump sometimes defies — and even resents — the new structure. He has been especially sensitive to the way Kelly’s rigid structure is portrayed in the media and strives to disabuse people of the notion that he is being managed. The president continues to call business friends and outside advisers, including former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, from his personal phone when Kelly is not around, said people with knowledge of the calls.
So if that’s to be believed, Donald Trump – a septuagenarian that holds the highest office on the planet – is sneaking around his babysitter to call Steve Bannon on his personal cell phone.
Just try to picture that in your head.
It also suggests that not only is Bannon now free to use Breitbart to actively subvert any goings-on on Capitol Hill that don’t line up with his agenda, he’s also still burrowing around in Trump’s head.
Hard to figure out whether to laugh or cry.
And here’s the question I would pose to anyone out there who’s inclined to deride that report as “gossip” from unreliable, anonymous sources: if you were given the opportunity to bet your own money on whether it’s true or not and none of your fellow Trump supporters would ever know, which way would you bet?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.