For months, the White House under President Trump operated with few real rules, and those were barely enforced. People wandered into the Oval Office throughout the day. The president was given pieces of unvetted information, and found more on his own that he often tweeted out. Policy decisions were often based on whoever had last gotten Mr. Trump’s attention.
.. In two memos sent to the staff on Monday he began to detail his plan, starting with how he wants information to get to the president, and how Mr. Trump will respond.
.. Mr. Kelly’s predecessor, Reince Priebus, sent some similar guidelines around early in the administration, according to two officials, but they were never taken seriously. Mr. Kelly, a retired Marine general, has been treated with a different level of deference
.. Mr. Kelly has made clear that one thing he will not seek to directly control is the behavior of the president, and there is a good reason for that.
.. Mr. Trump has a history of lashing out at advisers who have publicly conveyed their attempts to impose tighter procedures on him. Just before Election Day, for example, Mr. Trump blew up publicly after a New York Times report that his aides had succeeded in keeping him off Twitter for the final stages of the campaign. He tweeted several times to enforce the point.
.. Despite Mr. Kelly’s fairly deft touch at approaching the president, Mr. Trump has shown signs of rebelling
.. That included his news conference at Trump Tower in which he doubled down on his blame for “both sides” in the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Va., and his campaign rally speech in Arizona
.. Mr. Kelly had urged Mr. Trump to deliver a more somber, traditional statement the day before. And he and other advisers had urged the president to avoid taking questions from the news media at Trump Tower, a request that the president ignored.
.. In one of the memos, White House aides were told that all materials prepared for the president must go first to Mr. Porter for vetting and clearance. Then Mr. Kelly must sign off on them before they go to Mr. Trump’s desk.
.. given the propensity for some of Mr. Trump’s staff to slip him news accounts from dubious sources that shape his thinking or prompt him to cite unreliable or inaccurate information.
.. Mr. Priebus had tried to take firmer control of that process after Mr. Trump’s first week in office, when Stephen K. Bannon, the recently departed chief strategist, and Stephen Miller, the president’s senior policy adviser, pushed across the president’s desk two orders redesigning the National Security Council, and putting in place the first, court-contested travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries.
.. That process is expected to curtail freelancing and hijacking of decisions by West Wing aides. Mr. Bannon was often accused of taking advantage of the loose process, but Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who both work in the West Wing, have also frustrated their colleagues for months by going directly to the president on specific issues.
.. “Let’s assume for the moment that Trump has learned the first big lesson of his first six months, which is that you have to empower the White House chief of staff to be a real gatekeeper,”
.. “What he hasn’t learned, what he has shown no sign of learning, is that governing is completely different from campaigning,” Mr. Whipple said.