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Will John Kelly last two more years in Trump's White House?

Donald Trump l-o-v-e-s a good plot twist. And that's what he gave political Washington on Tuesday when news broke tha...

Posted: Aug 1, 2018 9:08 AM
Updated: Aug 1, 2018 9:08 AM

Donald Trump l-o-v-e-s a good plot twist. And that's what he gave political Washington on Tuesday when news broke that Trump had asked embattled chief of staff John Kelly to stay on through the 2020 election -- and that Kelly had agreed.

SWERVE!

The narrative of the last few months in Washington had been Kelly's isolation from Trump and the increasing likelihood that the chief of staff would leave 1600 Pennsylvania sooner rather than later. Wrote Politico's Eliana Johnson just two days ago:

"A year into the job, Kelly's attempts to implement traditional processes in an untraditional White House have failed, according to a dozen people in and outside the administration. ... Kelly, people around him say, no longer works to keep his mercurial boss on task or on message, with a Republican close to the White House referring to him as a "chief of staff in name only."

How the heck did we go from "Kelly is a dead man walking" to "Kelly is in through 2020?" Lots of reasons -- from the fact that Trump likes to upset expectations and keep his staff on their toes to the fact that replacing Kelly at the moment might have been more trouble than it's worth given the chaos surrounding the President's handling of the ongoing special counsel probe into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election.

I'd be wary, however, of falling into the "why" trap on this Kelly announcement. Because analyzing "why" Trump reversed course on Kelly suggests that this pact to keep Kelly on through the 2020 election will actually hold all the way through 2020.

And if Trump is Trump and history is any guide, it won't.

That doesn't mean that Trump and Kelly don't believe as of today that their partnership will last as long as advertised. They do! Think of it like junior high school when you and your friend pledge that you will be best friends forever. In that moment, you both totally believe it. But life intrudes. You go to different high schools. Or you go to the same high school but grow apart. Or you go to different colleges. Life happens.

That's sort of how you should think of this Trump-Kelly announcement. Trump is hugely mercurial. There is a reason that everyone assumed Kelly would be gone sometime soon -- because aides, channeling Trump, told reporters that the President was sick of Kelly and wanted him gone. Trump appears to have changed his mind on the Kelly question sometime recently (and, as I note above, for reasons that can be guessed at but never truly known). Trump may totally mean to keep Kelly on through 2020 as of today. In a month, he may have totally changed his mind.

All you need to know about Trump's mindset when he made this offer to Kelly is that the President initially asked him to stay in the job through the end of his second term in 2024, according to CNN's Kaitlan Collins. 2024! That would make Kelly the longest-serving chief of staff ever, far surpassing Andy Card, who stayed in the top job for President George W. Bush for five years.

Given what we know about Trump's lack of long-term strategic planning, it's very, very hard to imagine that Trump thought totally through the idea of Kelly staying on for the next six years -- or even the next two-plus years. Trump decided -- likely in the spur of the moment -- to keep Kelly and, because the President doesn't do anything halfway, offered Kelly to stay on for as long as Trump could possibly hope to be President.

Trump knows a few important things about making a move like that.

First, there's zero penalty for changing your mind. Everyone in the White House serves at the pleasure of the President -- more so with this President than most. If in six months Trump gets rid of Kelly, does anyone think that he would pay a price for it -- with voters or with Republican members of Congress? Answer: No.

Second, Trump has made clear time and time again that he believes he is the only person who matters in the White House (or the broader government). "Let me tell you, the one that matters is me," Trump said in November 2017. "I'm the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that's what the policy is going to be. You've seen that, you've seen it strongly." He was talking about openings in the State Department, but the idea applies. Trump views himself as the only indispensable piece in the White House. He is, in his own mind, the best chief of staff, communications director and, well, everything else that exists in Washington (or the world).

So Kelly's role -- at least what the role has become -- is to, largely, let Trump be Trump and stay out of the way. Which is not the typical job description of a chief of staff.

In short: Donald Trump and John Kelly have a partnership. For now.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 608519

Reported Deaths: 9693
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion840461335
Lake45349684
Allen32803548
Hamilton29394315
St. Joseph27380381
Elkhart24404345
Vanderburgh19411249
Tippecanoe17970138
Johnson15069295
Porter14783169
Hendricks14401248
Madison10965221
Vigo10726181
Clark10677144
Monroe9383110
Delaware9116134
LaPorte9065163
Howard8236144
Kosciusko806983
Warrick672999
Hancock6697104
Bartholomew6484100
Floyd6428110
Wayne6136162
Grant5991115
Dubois555579
Boone551168
Morgan541295
Henry507864
Marshall503984
Cass483263
Dearborn479845
Noble473059
Jackson425047
Shelby417581
Lawrence391079
Clinton373043
Gibson370359
Harrison348144
DeKalb347164
Montgomery345754
Knox335639
Miami321444
Steuben313745
Whitley307326
Wabash303251
Adams300936
Ripley298445
Putnam296850
Huntington291659
Jasper289034
White273243
Daviess270474
Jefferson263338
Decatur247683
Fayette247148
Greene239862
Posey239328
Wells236051
LaGrange228862
Scott225339
Clay222532
Randolph213548
Jennings198936
Sullivan192333
Spencer191321
Washington186423
Fountain184027
Starke175443
Jay167623
Owen165737
Fulton164030
Orange159534
Carroll158015
Rush155118
Perry154229
Vermillion149134
Franklin148333
Tipton132332
Parke13078
Pike116926
Blackford111022
Pulaski97037
Newton90921
Brown88035
Benton86610
Crawford7999
Martin73713
Warren6817
Switzerland6615
Union6287
Ohio4907
Unassigned0376

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 859841

Reported Deaths: 10680
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin101171707
Cuyahoga855711125
Hamilton64017448
Montgomery43107418
Summit34836761
Lucas31350625
Butler30973232
Stark25786435
Warren19671140
Lorain19017223
Mahoning17321338
Lake16080154
Clermont15926111
Delaware1438878
Licking13204137
Trumbull12809316
Fairfield1279381
Greene12055137
Medina11591168
Clark10942265
Wood10348158
Allen9897126
Portage9296109
Miami916873
Richland9139118
Marion7459113
Tuscarawas7381182
Columbiana7327124
Pickaway726150
Wayne7034171
Muskingum703141
Erie6152129
Hancock552390
Ross548998
Scioto539164
Geauga508455
Darke470292
Ashtabula453073
Lawrence452654
Union451828
Sandusky436662
Mercer433589
Seneca430166
Huron428741
Auglaize422264
Shelby421222
Jefferson419269
Belmont416840
Washington388740
Athens38009
Putnam374975
Madison355129
Knox352622
Ashland344938
Fulton338443
Defiance330086
Crawford322374
Preble320637
Brown312921
Logan307332
Ottawa293943
Clinton290143
Williams278667
Highland275118
Jackson263845
Guernsey254125
Champaign252028
Fayette236530
Morrow23234
Perry231318
Holmes225474
Henry218749
Hardin213033
Coshocton205622
Van Wert202245
Gallia196726
Wyandot196051
Pike176217
Adams176115
Hocking172024
Carroll155616
Paulding144321
Noble120540
Meigs108624
Monroe100732
Harrison89121
Morgan83130
Vinton70213
Unassigned00
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