In light of the collapse of Ronny Jackson’s nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, Gabriel Sherman writes in Vanity Fair that President Trump could conceivably shift current chief of staff and decorated military leader General John Kelly to head up the massive agency:
For months, Donald Trump has discussed replacing his chief of staff, John Kelly, who has attempted, with increasing futility, to rein in the president’s impulses since ascending to the job last year. For the past few weeks, Trump has often governed as if Kelly weren’t there, as evidenced by yesterday’s Fox & Friends interview, during which the president essentially undermined his own legal defense. The cringe-inducing telephone interview was precisely the kind of unscripted media appearance the chief of staff had made a point of preventing.
Now, talk of Kelly being jettisoned is ramping up again. According to sources familiar with the situation, White House officials and Trump confidantes are currently discussing the possibility of moving Kelly to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. These people say that the collapse of Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson’s nomination has created an opening for Trump to slide Kelly into the role. It would give Kelly a soft landing, while also having the benefit of putting a qualified official in charge of the sprawling department. “They’re looking for a place for Kelly to land that won’t be embarrassing for him,” one Republican briefed on the conversations said.
It’s unclear how actively Trump is considering the shake-up. (A White House spokesperson said Kelly is not being considered for the V.A.) Such a move, after all, would magnify the fact that Trump hasn’t settled on a viable successor for Kelly’s job. “That’s the issue: how to structure the White House,” the Republican said. The names that have surfaced in the past—lobbyist David Urban, Blackstone senior adviser Wayne Berman, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney—don’t appear any closer to being Trump’s pick.