The president took the time over the weekend to tweet, seemingly in Porter’s defense, about “due process,” but Trump’s only statement of support for Kelly … has been through presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, who told ABC’s "This Week" that the president wasn’t "actively" looking for a new chief.
We know if Kellyanne says he's not, then he is. Bank on it.
Trump's meager defense of Chief of Less and Less Stuff John Kelly, however, makes for straightforward sense. That is, why would this president do anything other than leave Kelly to twist in the wind? First, it's sadistic, and other than torturing cats and pulling the wings off flies, we know that Trump enjoys nothing more than salving a grievance by leaving He Who Caused It to twist in the wind. Second, hanging Kelly out to dry takes heat off Trump, who, as we also know, is always completely out of the loop when it comes to damaging White House stories. Frankly, I'm surprised that Trump has copped to ever even hearing of Rob Porter.
Meanwhile, no doubt Trump is actively looking for a new chief — chief #3 within roughly one year — who will be the outgoing chief just as soon as Trump needs a new fall guy. That's not to imply that Kelly has been innocent here. It is to say he's been working in an impossible situation for an impossibly thin-skinned boss. To me, these two passages in the Politico piece generate some sympathy for Kelly, in terms of his having tried to get some decent help.
"I think people underestimate how critical that role is, the role of staff secretary," said a former George W. Bush administration official. Kelly, this official added, "had a good staff secretary and he didn’t want to have to deal with it"….
The administration continues to impose the ideological litmus test that kept out many Trump critics during the presidential transition, particularly in the realm of national security. A … former Bush administration official said that he had recommended a job candidate to the White House within the past month who had criticized the president during the campaign and was told that the prospect of hiring the candidate remained a "non-starter."
Thing is, every competent, possible recruit would have criticized Trump during the campaign. That in itself defines a minimum level of competence. But for Kelly, they're all out of bounds, because of Trump's hypersensitivity to criticism.
In this current maelstrom of typical Trumpian clusterfucking, I feel genuinely sorry for John Kelly. Though Porter is a wife-beating piece of crap, he at least knew how to do his job — and Kelly just wanted to hang on to the only other competent employee in the Trump White House.