Saturday 23 June 2018

Frustrated Trump lashes out at his new chief of staff Kelly

THE CAVALRY ARRIVES: Donald and Melania Trump
THE CAVALRY ARRIVES: Donald and Melania Trump

Nick Allen in Washington DC

Donald Trump has reportedly lashed out at his new chief of staff John Kelly amid the latest tensions inside the White House. The former Marine Corps general was brought in just over a month ago to impose discipline within the administration.

But Mr Kelly told colleagues he had never been spoken to in such a way during 35 years in the military, the New York Times reported.

Mr Kelly was said to have indicated he would not tolerate it happening again.

Mr Trump's outburst, of which there were few details, came as his chief of staff clamped down on the number of advisers allowed unfettered access to the president, leading to frustrations.

Roger Stone, a veteran informal adviser to Mr Trump, said it was "inevitable" the president would "rebel against the latest manager wanting to control him". Another informal adviser to Mr Trump said: "Although he was once kind enough to tell me 'Come in and see me any time', those days are now over."

Mr Kelly was also said to have stopped Omarosa Manigault, a communications aide, from bringing critical press reports to Mr Trump's attention because they enraged the president.

Speculation also mounted that Keith Schiller, a trusted aide to Mr Trump for two decades, and now director of Oval Office operations, was preparing to leave the White House.

Mr Trump wrote on Twitter that Mr Kelly was "doing a great job" and he "could not be happier or more impressed" with his chief of staff.

Mr Kelly was on board Air Force One with the president as he headed to Texas yesterday to comfort survivors of Hurricane Harvey. Mr Trump visited a shelter in Houston where he hugged survivors, including children. He said: "There's a lot of love."

The trip followed criticism that the president met local officials, rather than victims, on a visit earlier this week.

Mr Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, became known as the "comforter-in-chief" for his role in consoling victims in times of national tragedy.

But Mr Trump faced a backlash following an initial trip to Texas on Tuesday when he only talked with officials.

He was also criticised by opponents after admiring the size of the crowd that turned out to greet him.

On his second trip, this time to Houston, the first people scheduled to meet Mr Trump and his wife Melania were individuals affected by the storm. The first couple also helped out packing boxes at a hurricane relief centre.

In a weekend radio address Mr Trump said: "All American hearts are with the people of Texas. Arm-in-arm, we will strive, we will endure."

He declared Sunday a "National Day of Prayer" for the victims and pledged a personal donation of $1m.

The death toll has risen to 47 as rescuers, using helicopters and boats, were still searching for people trapped in flooded homes.

Some White House officials believe Trump found his footing during the response to Harvey. Trump eagerly promoted the federal government's response and recovery efforts, and the White House has asked Congress for an initial $7.9bn (€6.7bn) in emergency aid - a request expected to win quick approval.

Separately, the special prosecutor assigned to investigate any alleged ties between Trump's campaign team and Russian officials has joined forces with the US tax authority - the much feared Internal Revenue Service.

Robert Mueller has enlisted the help of the IRS's criminal investigative unit - the highly-focused 2,500-member unit that focuses on crimes like money laundering, tax evasion and other financial crimes.

The unit also has access to tax returns filed by Trump, who has thus far refused to make his returns public, as every other presidential candidate has done in the past.

He cited the reasons for his refusal as being under audit by the IRS and that tax returns do not give any kind of accurate picture of his financial life.


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