Early this afternoon, President Trump administered the oath of office to his new chief of staff, retired four-star General John Kelley. Very shortly afterwards, the short-but-explosive tenure of White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci came to a (rather shockingly) quiet close. The exact circumstances of whether he tendered his resignation willingly or under duress remain unclear, but it seems safe to assume the latter. The company line– delivered by Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the daily press briefing– is that Scaramucci “felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelley a clean slate and the ability to build his own team.”
While we did not have enough time to get a fully-rounded sense of Scaramucci as a person, that statement does not appear to contain nearly enough vulgarity to have come from his mouth. Besides, the tenacity with which “The Mooch” approached the job would not suggest he considered himself a placeholder– nor would the divorce papers he received from his wife upon accepting the position.
One truly has to wonder about the motivations here, as well as the string of events. Scaramucci accepted the job as Communications Director. Sean Spicer resigns, refusing to work with him. Scaramucci gave his instantly-infamous profanity-filled interview with The New Yorker, where he called Reince Priebus a “paranoid schizophrenic” and sent out a tweet accusing the same of leaking White House information. Priebus resigns, and his replacement is announced in John Kelley– who, by all appearances, wanted nothing to do with Scaramucci either, questioning his discipline and credibility. More surprising, perhaps, is that Kelley has enough pull with the President to ensure the removal of a man who seemed, by all accounts, to display all of the “loyalty” Trump requires from his White House staff. Similarly telling is the statement that “all White House advisors” including Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and Steve Bannon, will report to Kelley. This is exactly the way power should be distributed in the White House, but certainly not the manner in which it had been in the Trump administration to this point.
The onus of controlling the chaos of a White House being torn apart from within by competing factions has, thus, shifted once again. A few days ago, the conversation line was astonishment at the power of Scaramucci in ensuring the removal of both Sean Spicer and Reince Preibus. Now the same conversations are being held about John Kelley. Only time will tell if Kelley proves more capable than his many predecessors in the role of White House cat-herder, but I can say this: I certainly don’t envy him the job.
Meanwhile, President Trump insists that there is “no chaos” in the executive branch, in spite of whiplash-inducing staff turnaround and, at best, minimal success in achieving platform goals. File that under “alternative facts,” I suppose.
Another interesting day comes and goes in the Trump administration, folks.
— This is the ALF, signing off.
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