Trump’s Chief of Staff, John Kelly, is expected to resign in the coming days, per CNN’s Kaitlan Collins. A senior staff meeting was scheduled for this morning, but it was cancelled. The Daily Caller, which is a far-right site that traffics in outright propaganda, nonetheless has real sources inside this administration, and their White House Correspondent is saying that Kelly “decided to take the day off and has no intention of resigning.”
Given that The Daily Caller functions as an outright mouthpiece for the administration, it’s safe to assume that their report comes straight from the horse’s mouth, while CNN says theirs is based off two sources. This is a familiar scenario for anyone who has spent time covering this administration. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in this administration talks to the press. It’s the leakiest administration in modern history. Once a secret gets out, the White House propaganda operation moves into full swing, and they deny the report and scream fake news.
So what should we make of this John Kelly report? CNN wouldn’t put this out if they weren’t confident in it, and it’s no secret that Kelly and Trump butt heads often. The Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng is also plugged in to this White House, and he provides some helpful insight into the conflict between what we’re hearing from CNN and what we’re hearing from one of Trump’s preferred propaganda outlets.
ABC is also reporting that Kelly is going to leave “in the coming days,” so there is very clearly something going on. Trump has been butting heads with Kelly ever since he stepped into his role as Chief of Staff, and something has obviously changed as of late.
One reason why there is so much uncertainty around John Kelly’s impending departure is almost certainly the fact that Trump would have to fire him himself. Despite branding himself around the “you’re fired” tagline, Trump is well-known for being afraid to fire people himself. He always either dispatches a surrogate like Kelly to do his dirty work, or puts it in an announcement so the person getting fired learns about it as we all do. This has been Trump’s MO going back to his days as a businessman. The problem he has with Kelly is that there is no surrogate he can dispatch to fire his Chief of Staff, Trump has to do it himself.
Which I think is the underlying fact under Suebsaeng’s conjecture of “Kelly could be gone in a day or a few months,” and the perpetual reporting that Kelly is on his way out. If Trump could have someone else fire Kelly for him, he probably would have cycled through at least another Chief of Staff by now. This is objectively hilarious. For all the tough posturing that Trump likes to do, he’s deeply averse to conflict. He has no problem dropping bombs (literally and metaphorically), but when the counter-punch comes, he runs and hides like a coward. That’s why you see him so much more unhinged on Twitter than he is in person. In many ways, Trump is the original keyboard warrior, and the uncertainty around John Kelly’s inevitable departure is directly tied to our president’s cowardice.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.