After months of speculation, it seems as if President Donald Trump may finally pull the trigger and fire White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Kelly’s departure has been a long, long, extremely long time coming, the fact that it appears to finally be imminent—according to new reports from the Wall Street Journal, NBC, and ABC News—means we now have new details about just why Kelly might be on his way out. Although Kelly’s fate ultimately rests in the hands of the president, the impetus for his departure may actually come in no small part from First Lady Melania Trump.
From NBC News:
Kelly has also gotten on the wrong side of first lady Melania Trump over staffing issues and travel requests. Some of the disputes with the East Wing have escalated to the president, the seven people familiar with the clashes said
“There have been instances where the East Wing staff were not treated as equals to the male-dominated decision makers in Chief Kelly’s office,” one White House official said. “Promotions were denied then finally granted after months of requests,” the official said. Melania Trump raised concerns with her husband earlier this year, amid the height of the controversy over his alleged affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels, that Kelly had repeatedly denied her requests to promote some of her aides, two White House officials told NBC News.
The requests languished for months as Kelly insisted there weren’t enough available positions for the first lady’s aides to have senior titles, these people said. During this same period however, West Wing officials working for Kelly received promotions, the White House officials said.
Having learned of the dispute, the president was furious and told Kelly to give the first lady, who has a smaller East Wing staff than her recent predecessors, what she wanted, these people said. “I don’t need this shit,” Trump told Kelly, according to one person familiar with the conversation.
As of this past summer, Kelly had reportedly agreed to stay in the White House through 2020.
And while there are almost certainly other factors playing into Trump’s decision, NBC’s account of Melania Trump’s dissatisfaction sure does seem to corroborate a separate report on a different White House firing—that of Deputy National Security Advisor Mira Ricardel.
The president became involved in that decision [to fire Ricardel] at the urging of first lady Melania Trump, whose staff battled with Ms. Ricardel during the first lady’s trip to Africa last month over seating on the plane and requests to use National Security Council resources, according to people familiar with the matter.
Evidently Melania really does care, after all.