Capitol Report: Ex-Marine Kelly in, ex-Wall Streeter Scaramucci out: Why Trump made switch

Donald Trump has long been fascinated by military leaders since his days as a cadet at boarding school in the 1960s. He’s seen here with his mother and father.

When Donald Trump was a teenager, his father sent him to a military boarding school to learn discipline. More than a half-century later, the president has turned to a former general to impose discipline on a chaotic White House.

It didn’t take long for new chief of staff John Kelly to make his mark. At Kelly’s behest, Trump on Monday removed Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, just 11 days after he was named to the job.

Scaramucci embarrassed the White House last week with a profanity-laced tirade to a reporter in which he attacked other top Trump aides, including then-chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Priebus resigned a day later to set in motion Kelly’s promotion as Trump’s right-hand man. Ironically, that was a kiss of death for Scaramucci.

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday said the president thought Scaramucci’s comments were “inappropriate.” She said Kelly has been given “full authority” to impose new “discipline and strength” in how the White House operates.

The White House certainly needs a firmer hand.

Constant infighting among staff, a series of damaging internal leaks and the president’s own unpredictable behavior have eroded Trump’s already precarious political standing in Washington.

Republicans in Congress are also frustrated by the White House turmoil. Some have warned the president his agenda is in grave jeopardy. Unless the White House gets its act together, senior Republicans say, the party could suffer serious losses in the 2018 mid-term elections that would dramatically impair Trump’s ability to govern.

The party’s high-profile failure to replace Obamacare underscored the seriousness of the situation.

Enter Kelly.

The 67-year-old Boston native, a retired four-star Marine general, has a reputation for being careful, orderly and disciplined. He’s emerged as Trump’s favorite cabinet member after a brief stint as head of Homeland Security, the agency in charge of guarding the nation’s borders from illegal immigration and other threats.

Kelly is among a handful of former Pentagon leaders in the Trump White House, reflecting the president’s long admiration for the military since his days as a high school cadet. He’s named more ex-military personnel to his administration than any president since World War II.

Trump gravitates to highly successful people, and generals have the stars to prove it — only a few rise from the ranks to the very pinnacle of the military profession.

The president’s long career in the rough-and-tumble construction business also makes him more comfortable with blunt-spoken military types. Trump has often quoted the former World War II General George Patton, who was known for his salty tongue and hard-charging ways.

Yet it remains to be seen if Kelly can achieve the same results as Trump’s father by instilling discipline in the president. Or if he can last long enough to succeed with a mercurial president in a White House in which aides and cabinet members fall rapidly in and out of favor.

Many have tried. None have succeeded. Just ask Priebus and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Almost daily, Trump sets off new political firestorms in his tweets and public appearances, often distracting the White House and the Republican party from their broader goals. As a result, they spend more time on defense than on offense.

In a tweet on Monday, Trump even insisted nothing is wrong in the White House despite all the recent turmoil.

The hiring of Kelly suggests the president himself doesn’t believe his own spin.

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