By Abby Phillip,
John Wagner and Damian Paletta
The Washington Post, July 31, 2017 -
President Trump fired communications director Anthony Scaramucci on Monday at the urging of new White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, a clear sign that the retired Marine general is being empowered to manage what has been an unwieldy West Wing operation.
Kelly demanded Scaramucci’s departure after he attacked former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus in a profanity-laced interview last week that quickly became a public symbol of the vicious infighting that has helped define the first months of the administration.
Trump’s willingness to dismiss Scaramucci —whom he hired just 10 days ago— was viewed by many in the West Wing as an indication that he is eager to impose order and is giving Kelly the tools to do so.
“General Kelly has the full authority to operate within the White House, and all staff will report to him,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Left unclear is whether Kelly will be able to curb the president’s inclination to subvert pecking orders, his tendency to encourage rivalries among his staff and his insistence on managing his own message through social media in ways that have often undermined his aides’ strategic planning.
But Kelly’s arrival signals that Trump is putting his confidence in someone he perceives to have the stature and experience to be a forceful leader in a White House characterized by competing power centres.
After swearing in Kelly to his role during an Oval Office ceremony, Trump treated him to the formalities typically reserved for visiting heads of state. As the two sat shoulder to shoulder in armchairs for the benefit of cameras, Trump leaned in and effusively praised Kelly, who previously served as Trump’s homeland security secretary. He later lavished more praise on him during a Cabinet meeting.
Priebus was viewed inside the White House as being ineffective and having little control over other top aides, and the president had mused for months about replacing him. In one of the strongest indications that Kelly will have greater authority than his predecessor, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner — both of whom advocated for Kelly to be hired — have expressed their willingness to support any structural changes Kelly might make, according to a White House official. Sanders confirmed that they, too, will report to Kelly, as will all other officials.