Kelly’s tenure in the Trump administration has been rocky for months.
Several White House aides have considered leaving the Trump administration in the near future, including chief of staff John Kelly, who reportedly called the building a “miserable place to work” last week.
Kelly made the comments to a visiting group of senators and has questioned how long he can work for the president, The New York Times wrote on Sunday. Joe Hagin, one of Kelly’s deputies and the point person arranging the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has also considered departing.
The Times notes people close to Trump have said the president isn’t worried about what’s expected to be an exodus of staffers after the upcoming midterm elections in November, but rather sees the chaotic atmosphere as beneficial. Turnover in the Trump White House is among the highest in modern history as senior officials have been forced to resign, fired amid scandalous behavior or, much less frequently, left voluntarily.
“This is how he won,” Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, told the Times. “This is how he governs, and this is his ‘superpower.’ Drama, action, emotional power.”
Kelly’s own tenure for the past year has been rocky.
Initially seen as an enforcer meant to rein in Trump’s unusual behavior, he has fallen out of favor with the president and even reportedly called Trump an “idiot” in front of other aides. He has frequently threatened to quit as a means to get the president to listen to him, but has also backed away from some of his managerial duties and sources described his demeanor as “beaten down” to the Times.
The White House’s new deputy chief of staff, Zachary Fuentes, has also earned the nickname “deputy president” in mockery after he took over some of Kelly’s duties.
Despite the conflicts, Kelly has reached a detente with Trump and traveled with the president to both the G7 summit and the president’s meeting with Kim in Singapore.
Hagin, the aide who helped organize the Kim meeting, is also planning to leave the administration soon, possibly after the summit is over, The Washington Post reported earlier this month. The outlet notes that Hagin has also told confidants he’s struggled with the chaos shrouding the White House.