The Slatest

Has White House Chief of Staff John Kelly Given Up?

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens to US President Donald Trump speak during a press conference following the historic US-North Korea summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018. - Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hailed their historic summit on June 12 as a breakthrough in relations between Cold War foes, but the agreement they produced was short on details about the key issue of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons.
Can’t even look anymore. SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

President Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly isn’t as front and center as he once was. Once hailed as the (sole) “adult in the room” in the Trump White House saving the president from his most destructive instincts, Kelly’s public role has conspicuously diminished of late. Politico reports, “Kelly’s status in the White House has changed in recent months” and that “he and the president are now seen as barely tolerating one another.” That’s a tough state of play when one of you is the president. It’s an untenable situation that begs the question: Has John Kelly given up?

Here are three new data points that point to maybe from Politico’s story Monday night:

No longer the enforcer: “According to four people close to Kelly, the former Marine general has largely yielded his role as the enforcer in the West Wing as his relationship with Trump has soured.”

Lotta time spent whaling on his pecs: “In recent months, his Secret Service detail has often been spotted standing outside the gym in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the middle of the day—and White House officials who pass it on the way to meetings view his late morning workouts as an indication of him having thrown in the towel on trying to have any control inside the West Wing.”

Let this sucker burn: “While Kelly himself once believed he stood between Trump and chaos, he has told at least one person close to him that he may as well let the president do what he wants, even if it leads to impeachment—at least this chapter of American history would come to a close.”

What happened to politicians not answering hypotheticals! Especially terrifying ones. Let’s get back to that! Scenario three—aka let’s let America burn and see what happens—is obviously pretty terrifying in a scorched-earth, end-of-democratic-days kind of way.