Privately, White House aides and others close to the administration acknowledged it won’t be easy. Even without Priebus, the West Wing remains fractured, with advisers competing for influence over the president.
“I think this is the best and last shot,” said one person close to Kelly. “This is it.”
.. Kelly is expected to nonetheless try to exert his authority early, including by limiting access to the Oval Office, according to people briefed on his plans. Kelly wants to have more of a pecking order among the staff and a more “traditional” approach, one White House official said.
But others in the White House said it’s too early to make predictions. “Everything is up in the air. Anyone who tells you they know anything is lying,” a White House official said.
.. But there is nonetheless concern at the White House about Kelly’s lack of experience with Congress.
“He doesn’t have the relationships over there,” one aide said.
Kelly has built relationships with several top White House aides in recent months, including chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior adviser Stephen Miller, who have played a central role in Trump’s immigration crackdown.
.. One of the people close to Kelly said he likely won’t have much in common with communications director Anthony Scaramucci, the fast-talking former New York financier.
Asked to name any similarities between the two men, the person said, “They’re both Catholic, but that’s probably about it.”
.. Kelly is expected to make his first staff change at the White House on Monday, when he’ll bring in Kirstjen Nielsen, his chief of staff at DHS.
.. previous stints as the senior military assistant to former defense secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta as highly relevant experience — a role one described as a “mini gatekeeper.”
.. “He has little tolerance for chaos and people who don’t follow orders.”
.. Kelly will also have to be able to take on the president — something few administration officials are expected to do as much as the White House chief of staff.
“He will have to be willing to look the president in the eye and tell him when he is wrong,” Panetta said on Saturday. “He can’t just be a yes man.”
“Whether John can succeed depends on whether President Trump can change.”
.. “A friend said to me recently, ‘John’s morals will be under assault from the moment he enters the role.’
.. earlier in his Marine Corps career Kelly was a congressional liaison and in his last military post — as head of the U.S. Southern Command — he had to regularly deal with political, diplomatic and economic leaders in Latin America.
“But can he succeed where Priebus failed?” he asked. “Trump likes to be his own chief of staff.”