President Donald Trump was angry Sunday morning following a long, deeply reported piece in the Washington Post that claimed Chief of Staff John Kelly no longer has the power he once did inside the White House. The Post “is far more fiction than fact,” the president wrote. “Story after story is made up garbage—more like a poorly written novel than good reporting.” Trump then added flatly that the paper’s story on Kelly “isn’t true” and amounts to “just another hit job!”
This marks only the president’s latest attack against the paper, and its owner, Jeff Bezos. But the president is going to have to attack more than the Post to dismiss the story about a chief of staff in peril, considering it has become something of a theme. The clashes between Kelly and the president are “recurring and escalating,” wrote the Post. “Both his credibility and his influence have been severely diminished.”
Although Kelly was once seen as the man who could bring order to the White House, he is increasingly being left out of key decisions. And he no longer has the trust and support of some of the key members of Trump’s staff. The Post even notes he once angered First Lady Melania Trump. This is all par for the course when it comes to Trump’s White House. The Post explains:
Kelly is the latest high-profile example of a West Wing Icarus — swept high into Trump’s orbit, only to be singed and cast low. Nearly everyone who has entered the White House has emerged battered — rendered a punchline (former press secretary Sean Spicer), a Justice Department target (former national security adviser Michael Flynn) or a diminished shell, fired by presidential tweet (former secretary of state Rex Tillerson).
No one knows how many days remain for Kelly, but when he leaves — either by the president’s hand or because of his own mounting frustration — he is almost certain to limp away damaged.
The Post is hardly alone in its assessment. Shortly before the paper published its story, Axios reported that Kelly threatened to quit on March 28 after a loud argument in an Oval Office meeting. “Very few people inside this White House feel secure or satisfied, given the wild, unpredictable mood and policy changes of Trump,” noted Axios’ Jonathan Swan. “Kelly months ago restored some order and sanity to the place but most of that is gone.”
Earlier in the week, the Associated Press also pointed out that Kelly “has receded from view, his clout diminished, his word less-trusted by staff and his guidance less tolerated by an increasingly go-it-alone president.” Trump is so frustrated by Kelly that he has even speculated about whether he could get rid of the chief of staff job entirely