John Kelly, Donald Trump’s newly appointed chief of staff, is bringing back a system used by former administrations to combat competing narratives in the White House, meaning that Infowars and other pro-trump sites might not make the cut.
In a conference call last week, Politico reports that Kelly launched a new policy-making process by which he and one other aide, Rhodes scholar and Harvard alumni Rob Porter, will review all the information that comes across the president’s desk.
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The report goes on to say that Kelly and Porter co-authored two memos explaining the new system, which were distributed to cabinet members and white house staffers, that will ensure the president won’t see any documents that haven’t gone through a vetting process, including “external policy documents, internal policy memos, agency reports and even news articles.”
This process is a standard one for past administrations, professor of political science at the University of British Columbia Paul Quirk, told Global News in a statement, and is usually used to ensure that opposing perspectives are presented to the president clearly.
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“Although each president can organize the White House in whatever way they see fit, certain practices have generally been accepted as most successful. One of them is to have a chief of staff who controls access to the president — who talks to him, and what documents he receives,” Quirk said.
“The purpose is to ensure an orderly decision process, preventing the president from being influenced by whoever is the most aggressive in pushing their views, or whoever he happens to run into in the corridor when he is about to make a decision.”Sor
Infowars covered the report, stating that “The news will undoubtedly bolster complaints emanating from Trump’s base that he has been isolated and surrounded by globalists who have no interest in furthering Trump’s ‘America first’ message.’”
A New York Times report adds that Kelly’s policies regarding the information delivered to the president are part and parcel to his procedural preferences in other areas of the White House, including how Trump makes decisions, how meetings with him are scheduled and how speeches are written and scheduled.
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“You need somebody to be the quarterback,” said University of New Haven political science professor, Joshua Sandman. “And my opinion is that he’s able to do that. It would help [Trump] understand his options in a coherent way. Trump needs coherence.”
The Times also reported that the process for delivering information to President Trump before Kelly’s appointment was largely undefined. Despite not being able to control the president’s behaviour, several aides inside the West Wing told the Times that they felt more protected by firm process.
Sandman also said that Kelly’s efforts are largely contrived from initiatives that former chief of staff Reince Priebus — having lacked the respect and credibility awarded to the former director of homeland security — was never able to see through.
“There were multiple centres of direction that were giving information to the president,” said Sandman. “The president was often getting information that was conflicting or antithetical to what would be good policy.”
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Quirk seconded this statement, saying that while Priebus and Kelly both aspired to run this kind of operation, it all depends on the president’s respect for the chief of staff.
“To some extent, this authority will depend on the chief of staff’s methods and demeanour — how forcefully he demands compliance on the part of the president’s various advisers. But mostly, it depends on whether the president supports him in this respect,” Quirk said.
These processes are designed to stop aides to the president from taking control of key decisions. The Times states that former chief strategist Steve Bannon would often take advantage of this, and that both Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner would often bypass any procedure and go directly to Trump with their concerns.
Despite Kelly’s efforts, political science professor at Cornell University, Elizabeth Sanders, doesn’t think Trump will ever fully let go of his “inner circle.”
“I don’t think they’ll be kept out,” said Sanders. She added that “he’s always going to have his ‘kitchen cabinet,’ so to speak.”
Quirk agrees, saying that “Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and others will go in to see the president, he will call Steve Bannon, or he will hear a commentary on Fox News, and Kelly’s procedures will go out the window.”
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