Many of Trump’s friends and advisers have concluded the president doesn’t really want a chief of staff — and he has several confidants urging him to operate without one. But for this president, keeping Kelly around offers the best of both worlds: somebody to blame when things go awry but nobody fettering his freedom of action.

Kelly, people around him say, no longer works to keep his mercurial boss on task or on message, with a Republican close to the White House referring to him as a “chief of staff in name only.”

“The president knows that it is necessary to have a chief of staff that allows him to do things that only he, as president, can do,” said White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters.

But nearly all the traces of the martial regime Kelly initially sought to impose have vanished. His efforts to centralize lines of reporting — he made a point of asking Trump’s own daughter Ivanka to report to him — have gone by the wayside.