(National Sentinel) Oval Office: It sounds as though President Donald J. Trump’s decision to appoint former Marine general and Department of Homeland Security head John Kelly as his new chief of staff was the best one he’s made, staff-wise, so far.
Kelly is bringing order and discipline to a West Wing where both were seriously lacking, which is helping to keep the president on track while dramatically reducing the chaos. As reported by The Wall Street Journal:
In the Oval Office earlier this week, a small group of senior officials talked with President Donald Trump about plans to take on Beijing over intellectual-property theft. When a side debate broke out between two top aides, the new White House chief of staff ordered the pair out of the room.
Return, John Kelly told them, once your differences are resolved, according to a person familiar with the exchange.
The move kept the meeting on track. It also signaled to top staff that Mr. Kelly, a retired four-star general, planned to bring new order and discipline to a West Wing that has been riven for six months with division and disorganization.
After one week, other signs of Mr. Kelly’s taking the reins include the end of the unchecked flow of paperwork that crosses the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, and a new, more formal process for meeting with the president, according to interviews with more than two dozen White House officials, the president’s informal advisers, associates of Mr. Kelly, members of Congress and Capitol Hill aides.
Even the president’s family members — daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner — are now expected to make appointments. So is chief adviser Steve Bannon. Kelly has even closed the Oval Office door, to keep people from loitering outside hoping to catch the president’s eye.
They can’t wait outside his office anymore, either. They are all asked to wait in a White House waiting area where they can read any one of several daily newspapers until they are called.
Mr. Kelly’s new process has slowed the president’s use of Twitter. The chief of staff has reassured Attorney General Jeff Sessions he isn’t on the verge of being fired, after sustained public criticism by the president, and he has instructed the often-feuding factions in the White House to “get their act together” before bringing an issue before the commander-in-chief.
“Everyone in the White House likes referring to him as ‘General,’” said former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of the 67-year-old chief of staff, describing a “sense of relief” in the West Wing this week.
“General Kelly has the full authority to carry out business,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “It’s been a great first week, and there is a sense of cohesion within the staff.”
It’s not certain whether Kelly will be able to contain all of Trump’s distractions or his habit of tweeting early in the morning, nor is it certain he will even want to try. But this new discipline was sorely needed, and it comes not a moment too soon, as the president will have to gird up for battle with a recalcitrant Congress as he moves to push his agenda forward.
The less distraction he has in the West Wing, the better his chances for success.