As incoming chief of staff John Kelly seeks to impose discipline on an unruly White House this week in the wake of ousted Steve Bannon’s departure, his greatest battle is likely to be attempting to rein in President Donald Trump himself.
People inside the White House claim Mr Kelly is already imposing a strong military chain of command and control, and several senior administration officials have fought back against calls for them to resign in the wake of Mr Trump’s comments about white supremacists, which many believe were influenced by Mr Bannon.
Instead, they hope to make progress on issues including tax reform, Afghanistan strategy and China trade policy which have been held up in part because of infighting.
On Saturday, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin defended his decision to stay, publicly rejecting his Yale University contemporaries who wrote to say he has “a moral obligation to resign”.
Mr Mnuchin is among a cadre of so-called “adults” at the White House who, despite battling a chaotic and regularly toxic environment, counter that they have a responsibility to stick with the administration.
“You have to stay,” Jeh Johnson, a former homeland security secretary under Barack Obama, told ABC on Sunday. “[W]e need people like John Kelly, Jim Mattis, HR McMaster to right the ship,” he said of a trio former generals who have taken up senior postings in the administration.
Nicholas Burns, formerly highest ranking member of the foreign service, said Mr Bannon’s departure removes a force for American isolationism from the White House. “This is a real step forward for those of us that hope the…
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