Checking in on Gen. Kelly’s West Wing regime and the history of chief of staff management styles

Sep 12, 2017

President Trump Speaks On Infrastructure Meeting Held At Trump Tower

White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly looks on as President Donald Trump speaks following a meeting on infrastructure at Trump Tower, August 15, 2017 in New York City.; Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images


It’s been over a month since John Kelly left his post as Secretary of Homeland Security to become President Trump’s chief of staff, following the ouster of his predecessor, former Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus.

The retired four-star Marine general was tapped at the end of July to bring a new management style to the West Wing following Mr. Priebus’ tenure, which was hampered by internal leaks that became distractions from the administration’s agenda. Kelly, it was believed, would run a much tighter ship, shore up the leakier parts of the administration, and have more control over both the amount of time people spend with the president as well as the flow of information to him. The style seems to be reflected in his own office, where Gen. Kelly’s deputy Kirstjen Nielsen reportedly has her own tight grip on how many people speak to the general and what information gets to him, a style that has rubbed some the wrong way.

So, how are things going in the Kelly White House? What’s changed? Is it indeed less of a distraction than it was? How does John Kelly’s management style fit in with other chiefs of staff? What characteristics are most important to being successful in the role?


Annie Karni, White House reporter for POLITICO; her piece from this weekend is titled “Kelly’s deputy annoys Trump aides with rigid style;” she tweets @anniekarni

Chris Whipple, author of “The Gatekeepers: How The White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency” (Penguin Random House, 2017); he is also a documentary filmmaker and a former producer for CBS News’ ‘60 Minutes’ and ABC News ‘PrimeTime’; he tweets @ccwhip

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