Saturday, July 28, marks the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump hiring General John Kelly as his chief of staff. The date is significant because many West Wing staffers have assumed for months that the long-suffering Kelly intended to make it to the one-year mark before he resigned, according to Republicans close to the White House. Trump also has been operating under the impression that Kelly has one foot out the door. Earlier this year, Trump sidelined Kelly and openly called him a “nutjob” to friends, basically governing as if Kelly wasn’t there. Sources said Trump’s humiliation of Kelly had an intent: to get Kelly to quit.
The problem for Trump is that Kelly appears to be burrowing in rather than stepping away. Earlier this month, Kelly went to the Oval Office and told Trump, “I intend to leave on my own timeline,” according to two Republicans familiar with the conversation. One Republican familiar with Kelly’s thinking said Kelly’s view is that it would be more humiliating to quit than stay, even though he’s become irrelevant in the job.
The stalemate has produced a petty and toxic environment in the West Wing, where Kelly at times seems to be working at cross-purposes to his boss, and Trump openly mocks him.