Rumors were swirling around D.C. yesterday amid reports (unconfirmed) that Trump’s Chief of Staff General John Kelly had been taken off Air Force One prior to its departure for Las Vegas.
Gen. Kelly was originally going to be on AF1 to Vegas with Trump today but was pulled off flight, I'm told.
WH not answering Qs about it.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) October 4, 2017
Kelly is the tough-talking Marine General brought in from the Department of Homeland Security to replace Reince Priebus. His efforts to install discipline in the Oval Office have chafed some staffers like the The Honorable Omarosa who previously had unrestricted access to Trump, while Trump was also reportedly unhappy with the limitations on his contacts with friends and staffers. This has led to further reports of friction between Trump and his Chief of Staff.
Who can forget the reaction of Kelly when Trump went off-script during his speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations, referring to the leader of North Korea as “rocket man”? A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words.
Unfortunately, he seems to have been unable to instill any discipline in the president, who still continues to tweet outrageous lies on a daily basis.
Then came reports yesterday that General Kelly was stopping Congressman Dana Rohrabacher from meeting with Trump to report on his visit with Julian Assange. Rohrabacher is one of the most outspoken supporters of Russia in Congress.
Dana Rohrabacher says John Kelly won't let him talk to Trump. https://t.co/IwPmalNZoN
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 4, 2017
While Kelly no doubts views this as part of “doing his job” it is likely that Trump might not share that view. Trump seems to relish chastising and humiliating his subordinates when he has one of his regular temper tantrums, but there is probably only so much a general from the U.S. Marine Corps is going to take. Yesterday I wrote an article speculating that Tillerson might be the next high-level official to leave the administration, but recent events put even money on either Kelly or Tillerson. Some have already speculated that Kelly has already resigned and the White House is waiting until Friday to make the announcement official.
Again, all of this is just speculation and rumor at this point – except for the Rohrabacher story – but it will be a significant blow to Trump and his administration if true. Interestingly, Kelly is not part of the “suicide pact” between Mnuchin, Tillerson, and Mattis reported yesterday by The Washington Examiner. That pact was that if any of the three members were forced out by Trump, the other two would immediately resign.
However yesterday Republican Senator Bob Corker, who has already announced he is not seeking re-election, was quoted by CNN News that Generals Kelly and Mattis, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “are the people that help separate our country from chaos.” One can only hope for the sake of our country that these rumors are not true and that Kelly will remain as a steadying influence in the Oval Office. But he cannot be faulted if he decides that his only honorable option is to resign.