Donald Trump’s decision to replace Reince Priebus with Gen. John Kelly as his chief of staff has received much fanfare, with supporters encouraged by the new chief of staff’s attempts to curtail the president’s open door policy and establish a pecking order in the West Wing.
But privately, aides and confidantes worry Kelly risks isolating the president in his attempt to moderate the free-flow of unveiled information that poured into the Oval Office under his predecessor. “The problem here is that [Trump] won’t have anyone to talk to, and he’ll get frustrated,” a Trump associate told the Wall Street Journal. “I give General Kelly four months.”
That sentiment was echoed by Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani, who speaks with the president frequently. “It wouldn’t work to try to isolate President Trump. He would rebel against that,” Giuliani told the Journal. “General Kelly has to balance on the one hand an orderly process, and on the other hand an orderly process that doesn’t in any way isolate the president.”
Trump is known for “reveling in chaos” and reportedly encouraged the public and explosive feud between Priebus and Anthony Scaramucci — who lasted as the president’s communications director for all of ten days.
According to the Journal, while Kelly won’t have a say in some of Trump’ more destructive habits, like obsessively tweeting about issues unrelated to the administration’s stated agenda, supporters hope he will be able to control the information that makes its way to the president.
It’s “very clear that [Kelly’s] here to manage the staff, not to manage the president,” an official said, adding the goal is to ensure Trump is “being properly staffed.”
For now, aides are confident the general will bring about order to the West Wing.
“General Kelly has the full authority to carry out business,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the Journal. “It’s been a great first week and there is a sense of cohesion within the staff.”