Today in Washington, almost everyone says it looks like the lid is coming off the blender. While the Rob Porter fiasco has been a part of a ransacked week, getting rid of Chief of Staff John F. Kelly would only make things worse. His departure would be a gesture of contrition — an acceptance that mistakes were made — but it wouldn’t serve the president or the country well. Here are five reasons President Trump should not fire Kelly.
- Firing Kelly would create a problem, not solve a problem. His departure would be met with a pronounced void that would send shock waves throughout the country, if not the world. Everyone in Washington has a way of making a big deal about staff departures and shake-ups and overstating their significance, but Kelly’s removal from office would have a profound effect on the functioning of the Trump White House. And given all of the president’s issues, I’m just not sure there is a better person for the job right now.
- Kelly has established some sense of order and process in a White House plagued by anarchy and incompetence. Already, speculation of his departure has revealed a spectacle of tribalism that is reminiscent of “Lord of the Flies,” not the White House. The retired four-star general hasn’t even been asked to leave his post, and already warring factions within the White House have begun shadow campaigns to slander and replace him. Mere speculation has caused a turn for the worse. I don’t want to imagine how things would look if he left altogether.
- I do not think that Kelly committed a firing offense. Mistakes were made, and Kelly appears to have had a role in the mishandling of the Porter security clearance before and after the revelations in the media. He must have been part of the blunder of not even mentioning the victims. That’s bad. But he should not have to pay with his job. Firing Kelly would be a disproportionate response to the harm done.
- Kelly is an important part of the guardrail function that a select few serve in this administration. We all want those guardrails to stay in place. Enough said.
- Given Kelly’s career and contributions to this nation, he should be given a pass. Few have given as much to America as Kelly. His career, his life, the dedication of his family all count for something. Even if you disagree with my analysis in #3 above, Kelly could be reprimanded and he could apologize, but he should not be humiliated and removed from office.
President Trump needs John Kelly. No one is irreplaceable, but things can always get worse. Trump should keep Kelly as his chief of staff.