End of an error
In 45-plus years as a Marine, John F. Kelly commanded more than a few good men. Within days after he was named White House chief of staff, the former four-star general told Donald Trump: You can’t handle the Mooch.
And so ended the short but spectacularly turbulent reign of Anthony Scaramucci as Trump’s communications director. Minutes after Trump officially swore him in to bring order and discipline to the White House, Kelly cashiered the mouthy Long Islander.
Trump hadn’t seemed much bothered last week by Scaramucci’s profanity-riddled rants to a New Yorker reporter. Some in the White House said it helped grease the exit of one of Scaramucci’s targets, chief of staff Reince Priebus.
But reports say Kelly found the Wall Street figure’s behavior abhorrent and embarrassing, and Trump came around.
“The president certainly felt that Anthony’s comments were inappropriate for a person in that position and he didn’t want to burden General Kelly,” said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.
A fine-tuned machine
“No WH chaos!” insisted a Trump tweet in the morning shortly before he swore in Kelly to fix the chaos.
To review, here’s what’s happened since just July 21:
Scaramucci hired as communications director. Sean Spicer quits as press secretary in protest. Trump trashes Attorney General Jeff Sessions almost daily. Obamacare repeal fails in Senate. Scaramucci threatens mass firings to stop leaks. Scaramucci profanely and happily predicts Priebus’ ouster as chief of staff. Priebus is sent packing. Kelly is named chief of staff. Kelly boots Scaramucci.
At 10 days, Scaramucci lasted half as long as National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.
But Trump seemed pleased in an evening tweet: “A great day at the White House!”
No soft landing
ABC News said Scaramucci’s allies floated the idea of letting him return to his previous gig — chief strategy officer at the Export-Import Bank — but Sanders said he “does not have a role at this time” with the Trump administration.
If Washington has seen the last of Scaramucci, he at least left a legacy of quotes. CNN compiled this collection of 10 memorable lines.
The take-away: Too far
Smashing the MS-13 gang is a popular goal, one that a wide consensus of Long Islanders can get behind. But Trump, as is his wont, went too far for some — police departments among them — with his aside in Brentwood Friday about headbanging suspects as they’re taken away, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
“I believe he was making a joke at the time,” Sanders said at her briefing Monday.
It was one of several instances in just the course of a week in which Trump’s rally-style tough talk drifted out of sync with the occasion.
Ignoring the dear leader
Senate leaders indicated they intend to turn away from health insurance to tax changes, even as Trump & Co. continue demanding that they stay focused on finding a way to repeal Obamacare.
"We've had our vote, and we're moving on to tax reform," said Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota), one of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's top lieutenants, as reported by The Washington Post.
Feeling a Trump boost
Trump on Monday tweeted, for the second time in four days, a Fox News clip of Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco praising the administration for boosting law enforcement officers, Newsday’s Ngo reports.
Interviewed by “Fox & Friends” on the morning of Trump’s visit, DeMarco said, “For the past eight years, cops have been made to feel like they were the problem, and they’re really the solution, and President Trump has stood behind them.”
Unlike the Suffolk police department, DeMarco told Newsday, he did not take issue with Trump’s suggestion that law enforcement officers be rough on detainees. He called it an “attempt at cop humor.”
Gang couldn’t collude straight
Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner reportedly told Capitol Hill interns Monday that the 2016 campaign couldn’t have colluded with the Russians because it was too disorganized — “but we couldn’t even collude with our local offices.”
The off-the-record remarks were reported by Foreign Policy magazine’s website, based on notes from a source.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported Trump’s legal advisers are worried about the misleading statements he initially ordered put out about son Donald Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer amid a promise of dirt from Moscow on Hillary Clinton.
What else is happening
- Trump has never left “The Apprentice” completely behind. He often trots out his “You’re fired” catchphrase, usually jokingly, in speeches. On Monday, he repeatedly referred to the White House’s Cabinet room as “the board room.”
- A false Fox News story about the death of Democratic operative Seth Rich was the product of a wealthy Trump supporter's efforts under the "watchful eye" of the White House, a new lawsuit alleges.
- Attorney General Sessions attended the Cabinet meeting — his first encounter with Trump since the president started trashing him publicly. But neither seemed to acknowledge the other while a news media pool was in the room.
- Asked by a reporter about North Korea’s missile threat as he began his Cabinet meeting, Trump said: “We’ll handle North Korea. We’ll be able to handle North Korea. It will be handled. We handle everything.”
- CNN says Kelly nearly quit as Homeland Security secretary in May in anger over how shabbily Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey was handled. Comey told him he should stay, the report said.
- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he is going to propose a strategy for Afghanistan because the Trump administration hasn’t come up with one. The Wall Street Journal (pay site) reported the White House is considering withdrawing troops instead of increasing them.
- Trump presented his first Medal of Honor. James McCloughan received the nation’s highest military award for “conspicuous gallantry during the Vietnam War.” The Army combat medic risked his life nine times during a 1969 battle to save the lives of comrades.
- An opioid commission chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called for Trump to declare a national health emergency to deal with the addiction epidemic.
- Scaramucci was erroneously listed as dead in the just-published Harvard Law School alumni directory, The Washington Post reported. It’s unclear whether a prank or just a typo was to blame.