According to several news reports in recent days, President Trump is growing quickly weary of the military-style constraints his new chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, is implementing on the West Wing. While Trump has, in recent weeks, applauded Kelly for giving him “time to think” for the first time since his inauguration, he has also bristled loudly against some of the rules that Kelly has put in place.
In an interview with The New York Times, longtime Trump associated Roger Stone said it was only a matter of time before Kelly found himself in the unemployment line next to Reince Priebus.
“It is inevitable that a guy who will not be contained and does not want to be handled or managed was going to rebel against the latest manager who wanted to control him,” Stone said. “Ultimately Donald Trump is his own man, and he’s going to resist all the control and regimented systems Kelly is trying to impose.”
The Times reported that not only is Kelly trying to limit the number of outside visitors received by the president, but is actually censoring the kind of news reports that make it into the Oval Office:
Mr. Kelly cannot stop Trump from binge-watching Fox News, which aides describe as the president’s primary source of information gathering. But Mr. Trump does not have a web browser on his phone, and does not use a laptop, so he was dependent on aides like Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist, to hand-deliver printouts of articles from conservative media outlets.
Now Mr. Kelly has thinned out his package of printouts so much that Mr. Trump plaintively asked a friend recently where The Daily Caller and Breitbart were.
The question posed in our headline is not an idle one. Why is Kelly so interested in limiting the kind of information that reaches his boss? Is it because he wants to streamline the efficiency of the presidency? Or is it because he has his own political agenda – one that does not conform to the kind of stories Trump might read in the pages of grassroots conservative websites like the ones mentioned in the Times?
For his part, Trump remains publicly supportive of his latest hire.
“General John Kelly is doing a great job as Chief of Staff,” he tweeted on September 1st. “I could not be happier or more impressed.”
This is a White House that could use a drop of discipline, so Kelly’s attempts to get the West Wing under control are to be encouraged. But if those efforts extend to trying to CHANGE Trump or throw him off the agenda he promised the American people, the president must take action before this betrayal takes a toll on his mission.