"Stop Bickering, Get in Early, Make an Appointment" - in the five months since John Kelly took the helm as Trump's Chief of Staff, the former marine has reportedly turned the West Wing from a free-for-all of division and disorganization into a well oiled machine.
Mountains of unchecked paperwork no longer cross the Resolute Desk. Gone is the ability for aides and associates to simply swing by the Oval Office and have a chat with President Trump - including his own son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka who began reporting directly to Kelly. Senior staff meetings which once began at nearly 9 a.m. were moved to 8 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room - in sharp contrast to the wandering discussions held by Kelly's predecessor, Reince Priebus - often with the TV blaring in the background of his office.
Moreover, Kelly has instructed staff not to simply patch calls through to President Trump from friends outside the White House who wanted to chat about current events - instead requiring that they make appointments. Indeed, it appears that Kelly's clampdown on the Trump White House have turned it into an efficient, streamlined, militaristic operation...
Then there's Trump, who according to a report in the Wall St. Journal has been calling White House aides to his private residence in the evening where he gives them new assignments - asking them not to tell Mr. Kelly.
Trump, it appears, cannot be tamed. But we knew that.
“John has been successful at putting in place a stronger chain of command in the White House, requiring people to go through him to get to the Oval Office,” said Leon Panetta, a White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton who worked with Mr. Kelly, a four-star Marine general, in the Department of Defense. “The problem has always been whether or not the president is going to accept better discipline in the way he operates. He’s been less successful at that.” -WSJ
While White House staffers tell the Journal that Trump's "working relationship with Mr. Kelly remains strong," and that they two men have "found an equilibrium," the dichotomy between Trump's free-form approach to leadership and Kelly's disciplinarian approach has often left the Chief of Staff out of the loop.
“This is all just inevitable,” said one person close to Mr. Trump. “It’s not that Mr. Kelly is wrong—we all know he’s terribly competent.”
Frustrated friends of the President have also reportedly gotten around Kelly's "do not call" list by calling Melania Trump in order to pass messages to her husband, according to two people familiar with the matter.
"[S]ince she arrived in the White House from New York in the summer, the first lady has taken on a more central role as a political adviser to the president."
“If I don’t want to wait 24 hours for a call from the president, getting to Melania is much easier,” one person said. -WSJ
Melania Trump's office issued a harsh rebuke to the Wall St. Journal, stating “This is more fake news and these are more anonymous sources peddling things that just aren’t true. The First Lady is focused on her own work in the East Wing.”
The White House declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Trump's Twitter feed is still off the chain of Kelly's control - shrugging off questions over potential diplomatic quagmires such as the time he called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "short and fat." Asked about the incident, Kelly shrugged it off - saying "Believe it or not - I don't follow the tweets," adding that he has advised White House staff to do the same. "We develop policy in the normal traditional staff way."
As one White House official told the WSJ, despite what appears to be an equilibrium between Kelly and Trump, they may never see eye to eye. “Kelly is too much of a general, and Trump is too much Trump,” adding that Trump continues to hold Mr. Kelly in high regard - often praising him during public appearances.
At a briefing on Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico earlier in the fall, Mr. Trump noted Mr. Kelly’s presence in the back of the room.
“He likes to keep a low profile; Look at him sitting in the back,” Mr. Trump continued. “But, boy, is he watching—you have no idea.”