Can you summarize the turmoil?

Amy Wang at the Post talked to an expert about what Kelly needs to do to make Trump’s operation less shambolic. This of course was before the news broke that Kelly has kicked Scaramucci out, so they had to add a bracketed update.

President Trump jolted the White House yet again Friday when he announced that he was ousting embattled chief of staff Reince Priebus, instead bringing into the role Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly. Immediately, Washington insiders contrasted Priebus with Kelly, a retired four-star general and reported disciplinarian who “won’t suffer idiots and fools.”

Oh yes? But he accepted a job working for the biggest idiot and fool most of us have ever encountered.

First of all, can you summarize the turmoil in the White House now as it relates to the chief of staff — and did you foresee any of this as your book was nearing publication?

While the timing of the book was obviously impossible to forecast, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that Donald Trump was headed for trouble. I wrote an epilogue in December, before Trump took office. I essentially predicted that if Trump tried to run the White House the way he ran his campaign — based on seat-of-the-pants decisions without an empowered White House chief of staff — that it would be disastrous. This could not work. And that’s what we’ve seen over the last six months.

This White House is broken, perhaps beyond repair. It can’t do anything right. It can’t issue executive orders that are enforceable. It can’t pass legislation. It can’t prioritize the president’s agenda. It can’t get anybody on the same page. In a normal White House, all of those things flow from an empowered White House chief of staff who can execute the president’s agenda and most importantly tell him what he does not want to hear. And none of that is happening.

What should Kelly do first to have hope of being successful?

The first thing he has to do is make sure that there are conditions. That would be the definition of insanity if John Kelly took this job with the same authority that Reince Priebus had. What he needs to do on Day One, if not well beforehand, is insist that he is first among equals in the White House and that everybody, with the exception of family, goes through him to get to the president.

Look, it’s possible that Stephen K. Bannon can have direct access to the Oval and he can pretend to be in charge of policy. I think everybody else has to report through Kelly. He has to be in charge of executing the president’s agenda. Somebody like [new White House communications director Anthony] Scaramucci, he shouldn’t be within 100 miles of a functioning White House. He cannot report directly to Trump or it will be a complete disaster. (Note: Shortly after this interview, news broke that Scaramucci had been ousted as White House communications director just 10 days after he was named to the job.)

Of course, we don’t actually want the Trump White House to function smoothly. On the other hand we also don’t want it to function so roughly that Trump ends up throwing all the nukes.

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