John Kelly Expected To Resign, Is Working With Mueller In Russia Investigation

This could be costly for the President.

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Although it’s impossible to know which came first, the news of Trump’s Chief of Staff being questioned by Robert Mueller’s special counsel team or the news that he’s “no longer on speaking terms” with the President, it’s not hard to fill in any blanks that might exist between the two blockbuster revelations.

Trump has been known if nothing else as the kind of boss who simply gets rid of anyone who seems to have outlived their usefulness, and Kelly has not made any public overtures that indicated a deep desire to hold on to his job anyway, but the fact that, according to a CNN report from Friday morning, he’s sat down with Mueller’s team to answer questions about obstruction of justice cannot have done the already-strained relationship between the two men any favors at all.

White House lawyers had successfully prevented Mueller’s team from speaking to Kelly for some time, lodging their objections to a meeting all the way back in the summer.


Kelly has, of course, been “on the verge” of resigning or being fired any number of times now, only to see his position lock in for a little while longer. But with Trump actively discussing possible replacements, it’s clear that Kelly has now reached the stage at which Trump considers him dead weight.

Ironically, Trump’s main complaint about Kelly, according to White House insiders, is his lack of political expertise: Trump expects that, with the Democratic takeover of the House in January, the remainder of his (first?) term will be more focused on policy, and he thinks Kelly is simply not “savvy” enough to be a part of that transition in style.

As for the questioning by Mueller’s prosecutors, it marks a different tack than the special counsel has taken with White House staff in the past — those who have been questioned before were present during the campaign or the early days of the presidency and would likely have had information about events during the initial phases of the Russia probe, including the firing of James Comey and other overt forms of obstruction in the case.

Kelly, on the other hand, joined the Trump White House in July 2017, well after most of what’s been publicly discussed has already occurred.

That could lead to speculation that Mueller intends to use Trump’s Twitter posts and other statements since that time to build a stronger case for obstruction of justice, in keeping with the number of federal judges who have nailed Trump associates on the same grounds from their social media posts.

But those with knowledge of what was discussed between Kelly and Mueller have indicated that the questioning was primarily related to reports in January of this year that Trump wanted to fire the Special Counsel — which then-White House Counsel Don McGahn repeatedly refused to deny.

But whether Kelly was already on his way out the door when Trump found out he’d been talking to Mueller, or Trump made the final decision to give him the boot after learning of it, John Kelly is perhaps in a better position to help Mueller than almost anyone else from inside Trump’s orbit.

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