Speed Reads

Rob Porter Scandal

Trump's confidantes explain the confounding reason Trump won't fire John Kelly

"The Rob Porter crisis has become a John Kelly crisis, and it has now totally engulfed the West Wing," says Jonathan Swan at Axios. But while President Trump complains to friends and advisers about his White House chief of staff's mishandling of the scandal over the former staff secretary's apparent violence toward his ex-wives, and especially the bad press it is engendering, Kelly's job is safe for one strange reason: Kelly hates his job. "That changes Trump's calculus," a source close to Trump tells Swan.

There are other reasons Trump won't fire Kelly — "the president needs and trusts John Kelly," one official assures CNN, and Swan says Trump is still impressed by Kelly's toughness and four-star general status, doesn't think the scandal has touched him personally, and doesn't have an obvious replacement in mind. But Trump also doesn't appear to "have the stomach to do what he normally does when he's fed up with them," the source close to Trump tells Axios. "He usually makes their lives miserable, publicly humiliates them. But now he's up against somebody who doesn't care and would happily leave."

Kelly's stock among the West Wing staff has also tanked because of his effusive support for Porter right up until he resigned Wednesday, but staffers also see Kelly as a critical stabilizing force in Trump's chaotic White House, CNN reports. The White House is actively trying to "inoculate Kelly and protect him" from the scandal by "essentially placing blame on others," a source familiar with the strategy tells Axios. And even aides who resent Kelly's iron fist, like Ivanka Trump, "won't do anything to undermine him," one official tells CNN. "If Kelly leaves, the rest of the ship goes with him." So: Sorry, Kelly.