Chief of Staff John Kelly tries to clear up a few things.
Trump’s chief of staff privately told a group of Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday that Mr. Trump had not been “fully informed” when promising voters a wall along the Mexican border last year, and said that he had persuaded the president it was not necessary. He also expressed optimism that a bipartisan immigration deal could eventually be reached.
John F. Kelly, the retired Marine general credited with bringing a measure of discipline to Mr. Trump’s chaotic White House during his six months as chief of staff, told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that he had educated the president about the issue of immigration, adding that Mr. Trump had “evolved” on the wall.
Hold it right there, cowboy. “Credited with bringing a measure of discipline to Mr. Trump’s chaotic White House”? So calling Africa and Haiti “shitholes” and tripping over his own message five times before breakfast is supposed to be an improvement? Okay, so he didn’t call them “fucking shitholes.”
But in telling lawmakers that Mr. Trump had essentially erred from the start in promoting a wall and by claiming credit for dissuading him, Mr. Kelly appeared to be voicing a sentiment some in the West Wing have heard him express privately — that it is his job to tutor a sometimes ill-informed president who has never served in public office before.
At the same time, it suggested that Mr. Kelly, who served as secretary of homeland security before coming to the White House and has hard-line views on immigration that mirror the president’s restrictionist approach, was positioning himself now as a moderating influence.
Mr. Kelly made the remarks at a meeting with members of the Hispanic Caucus, as a group known as the Twos — the No. 2 Democrat and Republican in both the House and Senate — worked toward negotiating a deal to protect from deportation the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers. The meeting with the Hispanic caucus was first reported by The Washington Post.
What it really means is that we have an attempt at a reverse Wizard of Oz throne room scene: pay no attention to the flaming talking head; listen to the man behind the curtain who’s really running the show.
The problem with that is that even if you take away all the bells and whistles and tweets and fumbles, you still have a policy on immigration that puts young undocumented immigrants in jeopardy, and worse, unsure of what’s next. Who knows what the nitwits at Fox and Friends will come off the couch with — aliens in the bathtub! — and send Trump around the bend.
If this little chat was meant to moderate the administration’s approach and instill confidence in their leadership, it needs a lot of work.