Trump's aggressive rant was met with more looks of regret from Kelly.
When he finally leaves his embattled position as White House chief of staff, John Kelly will no longer have fidget and squirm his way through embarrassing Trump statement, like the one issued at the opening of the annual meeting of NATO leaders on Wednesday.
Making the Kremlin proud, Trump opened up the international gathering in Brussels by unleashing a brawling attack on longtime allies, and specifically Germany.
Claiming the country was "totally controlled by Russia" because of the high level of natural gas it imports, Trump also lashed out at NATO partners for not paying their fair share of the alliance's defense costs.
During Trump screed, at a NATO welcome breakfast with TV cameras rolling, Kelly can be seen shifting uncomfortably, as compared to Trump's Secretary of States, Mike Pompeo, and his NATO ambassador, Kay Baily Hutchison, who both remained loyally stoic throughout the rant.
"Germany is totally controlled by Russia," Pres. Trump tells NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg as they sit down together for bilateral breakfast ahead of Brussels summit. https://t.co/CmyplgrxzN pic.twitter.com/6RnFk8Drgs
— ABC News (@ABC) July 11, 2018
Kelly has become painfully accustomed to embarrassing episodes like this, as Trump unleashes himself from diplomatic norms and embarrasses America in the process.
Trump's NATO outburst comes just weeks after he threw a fit at the G-7 summit in Canada. That alliance meeting broke down over trade and Trump's insistence on levying huge new tariff with the U.S.'s longtime trading partners.
Destabilizing NATO has long been a goal of Russian president Vladimir Putin, which could explain Trump's behavior, since virtually every move he has made on the international stage seems designed to bolster Putin, after Russian operatives helped elect Trump in 2016.
NATO was created in the wake of World War II to counter the military build up of the Soviet Union.
The Brussels summit comes less than a week before Trump is scheduled to hold his first summit with Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki. Trump has insisted the meeting be one on one, raising new anxieties about his relationship with Russia.
Note that Germany German Chancellor Angela Merkel was raised in East Germany when it was controlled by the former Soviet Union, so Trump's claim that Germany today is "totally controlled by Russia" is likely especially insulting to her.
As for Kelly, things have gotten so bad for him at the White House that aides no longer include him on the day's schedule.
"They’ve basically stopped telling Kelly when meetings are. People leave him off the calendar," one administration official tells Vanity Fair. "When he finds out, he storms into the room and is like, 'What’s going on?'"
That seemed to be what Kelly was thinking Wednesday in Brussels while listening to Trump implode: 'What's going on?'
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.