“It’s ‘country first’,” former Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson told ABC’s Martha Raddatz on This Week. Raddatz wondered whether Johnson had any reservations about the number of former generals in the Trump administration, and what it says that they aren’t the people resigning from the White House. Johnson sloughs that off by calling it an “interesting” question, but ignore that in favor of endorsing the continued tenure of John Kelly and James Mattis.
If they asked his advice about whether to resign after the controversies of the past few weeks, Johnson says he’d tell them “absolutely not.” We need them on duty to “right the ship,” Johnson says (via The Hill):
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 20, 2017
Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he’d tell Trump advisors “you have to stay” in the administration if any of them ask, he told ABC’s “This Week.”
Johnson specifically named White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.
“I’d say absolutely not” if they asked me if they should resign, Johnson said.
They need to “right the ship,” he said.
If nothing else, this will give both men political cover in the media to resist the demands for resignations. Allahpundit wrote about this conundrum on Friday in his post about Mitt Romney’s open letter to Trump, and why the calls from some quarters for mass resignations may be misguided:
If Romney had ended up with the Secretary of State job, would he have quit this week in protest? Or would he be stuck in the same place Mattis, McMaster, Kelly and others probably are, not wanting to stick around to see how much worse things can get but feeling duty-bound to do their best to keep the ship of state afloat? I suspect Secretary of State Mitt would gulp and keep his mouth shut. But that’s probably one of the reasons he’s privately happy he didn’t get the job. Inevitably there’d be a moment like this. if Romney were on the Trump train, he’d have to grin and bear it along with everyone else aboard.
Mass resignations among ministers would trigger a no-confidence vote in a parliamentary system. In our system, though, it wouldn’t move a president to resign, especially not one with such a high opinion of his own abilities — and a track record of being underestimated — as Donald Trump. All it would do would be to create an even more chaotic state and reduce the influence of experienced figures already in position on Trump.
Besides, other than Charlottesville, the past couple of weeks show promise on the ship-righting front. Kelly has flexed his muscles and imposed more discipline on the White House, if not the boss himself, and Mattis and McMaster now have a freer hand to implement tough policies, both organizationally and politically. Johnson may not need to give that advice, as it seems Kelly and Mattis are doing well enough without it — but the media might want to consider Johnson’s call for ‘country first’ over hysterics.