Could the new chief of staff General John Kelly reign in on Trump?


THE White House is in chaos, but let us look at the glimmer of hope in President Donald Trump’s appointment of General John Kelly as chief of staff, replacing Reince Priebus, who reportedly served for the shortest time in White House history —  January 20 to July 27, 2017.

Kelly previously served as the secretary of Homeland Security until Priebus stepped down amid the controversies, legislative failures, and internal turmoil that continue to hound the Trump administration. Priebus was the chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) since 2011 until Trump appointed him in January this year.

Kelly was a decorated retired Marine general whose service to the country includes three tours in Iraq. He has earned the respect of people he has worked with, with a kind of leadership that can withstand pressure, instill order and structure in the system. As a person, Kelly has been admired for his adherence to the truth, respect for people and the rule of law.

In the seven month-old Trump presidency, many Americans hope Kelly as chief-of-staff can reign in on what is wrong in how the Trump administration is being ran, be able to help weed out all the drama in the White House and help the president be on the right track in fulfilling his promises to the American people.

His first few days give us reasons to be optimistic — he fired the potty-mouth Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. He has started to implement the military discipline and chain-of-command, initially by making people in the White House like Steve Bannon, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Kellyanne Conaway, etc. report to him instead of going directly to Trump, as was the case during Priebus’ term.

BUT the big test here is how he can be effective in his job with the 71-year-old Donald Trump as the “boss”. Questions we need to follow up on:

Will Kelly be able to reign in on Trump’s Twitter problem which has proven to be the source of many of the Trump’s presidency problems — his reckless, impulsive use of twitter to accuse President Obama and the British spies of wiretapping and surveilling him; to lambast government officials in co-equal branches of government like judges, legislators who disagree with him; to pick a fight against leaders of other countries (except Russia’s Putin) as well as international organizations whose policies go against his own agenda; to announce policy changes like the banning of transgenders in the U.S. military which has blindsided even his own Defense Department secretary and Pentagon officials; and to use twitter aggrandize himself without regard for the truth?

WHICH brings me to the next point — could Kelly reign in on Trump to be honest, transparent and faithful to the truth? Could he convince him to cooperate with the Mueller investigation instead of demonizing the investigators and the investigations themselves and help get to the bottom of the allegations against him? Could he convince Trump that doing this would actually help remove the cloud of doubt hovering over his presidency if indeed he is not hiding anything?

Just last Monday, another expose came out from the Washington Post which alleged that Trump “dictated” the misleading statement Donald Jr. gave regarding his meeting with the Russian lawyers and other Russian players in the Trump Tower in June of 2016, during the U.S. presidential campaign season. This, after their repeated denials about Trump’s having no knowledge about the meeting and denials about having anything to do with Donald Jr.’s statement, which also came from no less than his personal lawyer. Could Kelly make Trump stop all the lies and be transparent and forthcoming from this day forward?

Could Kelly rub off on Trump the RESPECT he needs to accord to people he work with, people he does not agree with, people critical of him, and make him realize he is now representing the Office of the President of the United States of America? Could he make Trump understand that the three branches of government are co-equal and he, as president, should therefore respect their authority and treat them as partners in making America great again? Could he make him comprehend that he, as president, is not above the law, and should be leading with example on how to respect and follow the rule of law?

I sincerely hope Kelly succeeds, because if he does, Trump has a better chance of succeeding in fulfilling his promise of making America great again.

Otherwise, one of two things may happen: either Kelly resigns or Trump tells him, “YOU’RE FIRED!”

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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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