In one of the most spectacular ironies of the Trump era, it may be the words of Omarosa Manigault Newman - a staffer of questionable utility, who was reportedly dragged kicking and screaming away from the West Wing - that prophesied the downfall of General John Kelly - a man who, thanks to his reputation as a faithful disciplinarian, has earned a level of popularity and respect as Trump's chief of staff that has eluded many of his colleagues.
In an administration where career-ending scandals are an almost weekly occurrence, many observers initially believed that Kelly would weather the storm when the Washington Post last night published a report last night that White House Counsel Donald McGahn and Kelly knew one year ago about complaints that staff secretary Rob Porter's ex-wives were prepared to make allegations that he was physically abusive, but ignored them, and instead elevated Porter into an influential gatekeeper to the president.
Yet this morning, the New York Times reported that President Donald Trump is considering replacing Kelly with Mick Mulvaney, the head of both the OMB and the CFPB.
Trump Is Said to Float Idea of Mulvaney as Chief of Staff: NYT— FxMacro (@fxmacro) February 9, 2018
The chief of staff job would mean Mulvaney is holding three jobs that require more than full-time dedication. It'll be hard to spill with that many plates in the air.
And to add insult to injury, the Times reported that, after the scandal broke, Trump - who has a habit of soliciting advice from former advisers depending on his mood - called up Reince Preibus, Kelly's predecessor, to commiserate
Just as he did with the "Lazy" comment, Kelly made the situation worse for himself when he defended Porter in public comments, saying he was an "honorable and upright" man, and that Kelly believed his denial. Porter was reportedly one of Kelly's proteges, and a rumored candidate to fill a long-vacant deputy chief of staff job.
Porter denied the accusations, but promptly handed in his resignation.
Chief of Staff John F. Kelly learned this fall about the allegations of spousal abuse and that they were delaying Porter’s security clearance amid an ongoing FBI investigation. But Kelly handed Porter more responsibilities to control the flow of information to the president.
Porter, who denied the “vile” allegations, resigned Wednesday after the ex-wives’ accounts of years of verbal and physical abuse were published, along with graphic pictures of Colbie Holderness, his first wife, bruised from what she said was a punch to the face.
Kelly has had brushes with scandal before - he recently drew a twitter rebuke from the president went he said during an interview that Trump's views on the wall had "evolved" - and he also was called out for lying about a story involving Florida Rep. Federica Wilson. Most recently, he was soundly mocked by the media for describing some immigrants as "lazy". But he has never been embroiled in something like this, and now, it appears Kelly's enemies in the West Wing - a place famous for its factions and internecine squabbling - are seizing the opportunity to push him out once and for all.
Readers may recall a few months ago Omarosa during an interview on Good Morning America accused John Kelly of playing favorites and of adding her to his "no fly" list of staffers who weren't invited to "serious" meetings."
Of course, Mulvaney's job in the West Wing, if this does indeed come to pass, would probably be his paramount priority.
And he's also someone with a reputation for having a steady hand.
Still, losing the general would probably lead to even more upheaval - at least in the short term.