Brought in to calm the waters, former Gen. John Kelly's first day on the job at the White House erupted into more Trump chaos.
Riding a wave of positive press coverage that suggested former Gen. John Kelly might be the perfect man to right Donald Trump’s leaky White House ship, the new chief of staff’s first day instead unfolded as a fiasco.
Not only did the notorious White House leaks continue under Kelly’s command, but the chaotic nature of the Trump administration also seemed to be ratcheted up.
The retired general was widely touted as the new sheriff in town who’d help clean out the White House rot. He "firmly asserted his authority on his first day in the White House on Monday, telling aides he will impose military discipline on a free-for-all West Wing," The New York Times reported in the afternoon of Kelly's first day.
That was certainly the spin being pushed by the administration:
— CNN (@CNN) July 31, 2017
But Kelly couldn’t even pull that off for one day.
By the end of Monday, the White House was once again careening from one crisis to another, highlighted by the sudden firing of its foul-mouth communications director, Anthony Scaramucci.
It was the hiring of the flamboyant Scaramucci that prompted White House press secretary Sean Spicer to resign in July. Eight days later, Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, was sacked, via Twitter. In between, Scaramucci gave a shockingly profane interview with The New Yorker where he thoroughly trashed his colleagues.
Hours after news of the Scaramucci firing broke on Monday, Kelly’s team was scrambling in response to the Washington Post bombshell report that Trump personally dictated the phony cover story for his son about how Donald Trump Jr. met with Russian operatives last year to supposedly discuss "adoption," when the email thread Trump Jr. released makes obvious that he met with the operatives because they promised campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton. The meeting is widely seen as attempted collusion by the Trump campaign.
The Post revelation not only upended previous, televised claims that Trump had nothing to do with the false cover story, but it also opened up Trump’s team of advisers to claims of a cover up:
For now, the story represents another tripwire that’s bound to complicate life for White House attorneys in the days and weeks ahead.
But that wasn’t all for Kelly’s first day. Also on Monday, Trump’s approval rating continued to plummet, leaks about internal staff changes only intensified under Kelly’s watch, and experts expressed complete astonishment that the White House remained silent in the face of Russia’s extraordinary decision to expel American diplomats from the country.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Kelly was hired in hopes of dialing down the White House chaos by instituting a military-like precision.
But Kelly’s first day on the job was a disaster.