John Kelly’s Latest Mission: Controlling the Information Flow to Trump – New York Times
Mr. Kelly’s predecessor, Reince Priebus, sent some similar guidelines around early in the administration, according to two officials, but they were never taken seriously. Mr. Kelly, a retired Marine general, has been treated with a different level of deference inside the building, those aides said. Staff members discovered early on that they could defy Mr. Priebus, the officials said, but crossing a Marine is a different matter.
Mr. Kelly has made clear that one thing he will not seek to directly control is the behavior of the president, and there is a good reason for that.
Mr. Trump has a history of lashing out at advisers who have publicly conveyed their attempts to impose tighter procedures on him. Just before Election Day, for example, Mr. Trump blew up publicly after a New York Times report that his aides had succeeded in keeping him off Twitter for the final stages of the campaign. He tweeted several times to enforce the point.
Despite Mr. Kelly’s fairly deft touch at approaching the president, Mr. Trump has shown signs of rebelling after stories have appeared describing how his chief of staff has put tighter controls in place and is imposing some discipline on White House operations. That included his news conference at Trump Tower in which he doubled down on his blame for “both sides” in the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Va., and his campaign rally speech in Arizona on Tuesday when he accused the news media of mischaracterizing his statements.
Mr. Kelly had urged Mr. Trump to deliver a more somber, traditional statement the day before. And he and other advisers had urged the president to avoid taking questions from the news media at Trump Tower, a request that the president ignored. Before Mr. Trump’s rally in Arizona, aides prepared a sober set of remarks for him to deliver about unity, and sought to redirect his focus after he learned of a Times report about his relationship with Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. Mr. Trump, who trusts few people and adjusts to new advisers gradually, railed at his new chief of staff over the story, according to one person close to the president.
Still, the memos have brought comfort to a number of Mr. Trump’s advisers who have sought structure in a Wild West environment. And they have provided guardrails where few existed.
“General Kelly is instilling processes to ensure that the president has the information and analysis he needs to make decisions,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.