Trump expected to reshuffle staff in White House turmoil
WASHINGTON, Nov 14, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – President Donald Trump is reported to
be preparing a reshuffle at the White House — fueled by fallings out between
his wife and senior staff — after a week of angry brooding over midterm
elections that weakened his grip on Congress.
The start to the second half of Trump’s first term is enveloped in gloom
as the president surveys the damage from the midterms, tension with some of
America’s closest allies, and now turmoil inside the administration.
The biggest name on the chopping block, according to multiple US media
reports, is chief of staff John Kelly.
A retired Marine Corps general, he has often been nicknamed “the adult in
the room” during Trump’s drama-prone administration, even if critics say he
has done little to temper the president’s most damaging outbursts.
Now Kelly’s days are numbered, according to the unconfirmed but mounting
leaks to US media.
His position, tenuous for months, has been undermined further by First
Lady Melania Trump’s anger that Kelly refused to promote some of her aides,
US media reports say.
Nick Ayers, a 36-year-old chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence and
renowned political consultant, is reportedly high on Trump’s list as a
Another expected reshuffle casualty is Homeland Security Secretary
Kirstjen Nielsen, a Kelly ally who oversees the politically sensitive task of
carrying out Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
Among her critics has been National Security Adviser John Bolton, who last
month was widely reported to have had a shouting match with Kelly right
outside the Oval Office over Nielsen’s performance.
– First Lady strikes –
While speculation swirled around Melania Trump’s dislike for Kelly, she
has been fully open in a rare, protocol-busting demand for the firing of
another staffer — Bolton’s deputy Mira Ricardel.
Ricardel “no longer deserves the honor,” Melania Trump’s spokeswoman
announced Tuesday, amid a falling out that press leaks say is partly linked
to a dispute over seating arrangements on the plane that took the first lady
for a tour of African countries in October. Ricardel remained in her post
Wednesday, but it seemed unlikely she could last much longer.
Trump has been in a funk since last week’s midterms which saw the Democrats
seize control of the House of Representatives, ending the Republicans’
dominance of both chambers of Congress.
While the Republicans held onto their Senate majority, the Democrats
scored heavy gains to take over the House, confronting the president for the
first time with the prospect of an opposition that has teeth.
Democrats vow to use their control of powerful oversight committees to go
after Trump’s nebulous personal finances and to protect an explosive probe
into whether his 2016 election campaign colluded with Russian agents.
Pressure is mounting from the probe, as the special counsel Robert Mueller
digs ever more deeply into the president’s inner circle.
When Trump suddenly replaced his attorney general Jeff Sessions last week
with a fierce critic of the Russia investigation, Matthew Whitaker, critics
accused him of violating the constitution.
The Department of Justice ruled on Wednesday that Whitaker’s appointment
is in fact constitutional, but this will do little to calm claims that
Trump’s real goal is to defang the Russia probe, which he describes as “a
Abroad, there’s no respite for the real estate billionaire either.
A weekend trip to Paris for World War I commemorations was marred by a row
with President Emmanuel Macron — which saw Trump mockingly refer to
Germany’s invasions of France during the two world wars, while also berating
America’s European allies in NATO over their defense spending.
The other main takeaway from Trump’s trip — the round criticism of a
decision to scrap a visit to an American military cemetery due to the rain —
has reportedly left the president incensed, and the prospect of a White House
shakeup all the greater.