President Trump’s friends and foes seemed to welcome his appointment of new White House chief of staff John Kelly on Sunday, as many predicted that Kelly would bring “discipline” and “order” to his new post, The Hill reports.
“I do think General Kelly will do a good job as the White House chief of staff. I think he will bring some order and discipline to the West Wing,” said Senator Susan Collins.
Kelly is already reaching out to Congress and Trump’s Cabinet. His first White House staff meeting is Monday, but it is still unclear how his role will differ from his predecessor, and who will answer to him among staff.
“General Kelly will have his hands full tomorrow morning when he starts work at the White House,” John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, said on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
In a stunning turn of events on Friday, Trump announced on Twitter that his chief of staff Reince Priebus would be stepping down from the post, marking the shortest tenure for a White House chief of staff. Kelly, a retired military general whom the president has come to admire, is joining the staff after serving as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Trump aide Kellyanne Conway avoided answering questions on Fox News Sunday about the new chain of command in the White House, saying she would discuss it with Kelly and the president on Monday.
Trump’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, reported directly to the president under outgoing chief of staff Priebus, an unusual case for a presidential administration. The White House has not clarified who among the staff will answer to Kelly.
“A lot occurs outside the building in the chief of staff position. This is somebody who regularly interfaces with the Cabinet, and General Kelly is coming from the Cabinet.” Conway said.
Kelly had dinner with Trump and two Cabinet secretaries, Commerce’s Wilbur Ross and the Treasury’s Steven Mnuchin on Saturday night. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who has remained close within the Trump camp since the campaign, warned that the number one mistake the general could make is attempting to change the president.
“Chuck, as I’ve said, you’ve to let Trump be Trump. That is what has made him successful the last 30 years. That is what the American people vote for. And anyone who thinks they are going to change Donald Trump doesn’t know Donald Trump,” Lewandowski told Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Priebus and Trump’s relationship gradually fractured over the past six months, but Kelly has been serving in Trump’s administration since January, almost the same amount of time.
Podesta, who also served as a White House chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton, suggested two courses of action the general should take when he assumes his new position on Monday, including making his boss more disciplined and rebuilding relationships with key lawmakers on the Hill.
Kelly needs “to end the chaos and get some discipline in the White House, and that’s going to be exceedingly difficult to do … because he’s got to get the president to be disciplined and he’s shown no inclination to do that,” Podesta said Sunday.
Conway similarly expressed hope, in her separate appearance on Sunday, that Kelly would bring “order, discipline and a chief of state that empowers staff to succeed” to the White House. And Lewandowski said the new White House chief must ensure that staff is focused on the president’s agenda, which means straightening out the leak problem and “back-biting” among personnel.
“Secondly, he’s got to restore some sense of strategic priority with the leadership in Congress, not just the Republican leadership. He needs to talk to Democrats as well,” Podesta continued.
Kelly appears to be doing just that. His lone public Democratic critic so far is Representative Barbara Lee, who on Sunday doubled down on her criticism of Kelly as an “extremist” for enforcing Trump’s immigration policy. “I will be speaking to him today and look forward to working with him,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said of Kelly on Fox News Sunday.