Sage Advice From the ‘Gold Standard’ of White House Chiefs of Staff

“Reince was terribly effective, but was probably a little bit more laid back and independent in the way he ran the office,” Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And I think the president wants to go a different direction, wants a little bit more discipline, a little more structure in there.”

Mr. Kelly faces two challenges in imposing discipline. He must instill order on a staff whose infighting has grown so toxic that Sean Spicer, the press secretary, resigned rather than work with the new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, who then delivered an expletive-laden rant berating Mr. Priebus and Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist.

“What I would guess moving forward is that General Kelly is going to bring the type of discipline to the staff to ensure that the leaks are stopped and that the president’s agenda is foremost of what takes place in that building, so there will be no more backbiting, there’ll be no more stabbing each other in the back,” Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

But the second task is far more daunting: imposing discipline on a president who evidently wants no part of it. At 71, Mr. Trump seems unlikely to discard a lifetime of operating habits and learn to stick to a plan and temper his self-destructive instincts. From his viewpoint, his freewheeling style got him to the White House and is not the problem.


John F. Kelly in January at his nomination hearing for homeland security secretary. He is President Trump’s new White House chief of staff.

Molly Riley/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Kelly, 67, is more a generational peer and may take advantage of the president’s reverence for generals to get him to…

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