By Philip Rucker,Robert Costa and Dan Balz
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is trying to take command of his floundering administration by enlisting a retired four-star Marine general as his White House chief of staff, empowering a no-nonsense disciplinarian to transform a dysfunctional West Wing into the “fine-tuned machine” the president has bragged of running but has not yet materialized.
John Kelly will be sworn in Monday at the nadir of Trump’s presidency, with historically low approval ratings, a stalled legislative agenda and an escalating Russia investigation that casts a dark cloud.
Trump envisions Kelly executing his orders with military precision and steely gravitas, and without tending to outside political motivations or fretting about palace intrigue, according to Trump confidants. The president replaced Reince
with Kelly, who had what Trump considers a star run as homeland security secretary, in the hope of projecting overall toughness and of inspiring the respect – and even fear – that has eluded him on Capitol Hill, where fellow Republicans last week defied the White House on health care and Russian sanctions.
But no matter how decisive his leadership, Kelly alone cannot turn Trump’s vision into reality. Warring internal factions that have stirred chaos, stoked suspicions and freelanced policies for six straight months may not easily submit to Kelly’s rule. And the president – whose rash impulses routinely have sabotaged the best efforts of his senior aides – has shown no willingness to be tamed.
“Kelly is an incredibly disciplined person who could bring order to the process if the animals in the zoo behave,” said John McLaughlin, a former acting director of the CIA who served in seven administrations. “The danger he has is that Trump will be Trump.”
Kelly got a quick introduction to his new life on Saturday: an angry tweet storm from Trump in which he told Senate Republicans to “Get smart!” and change chamber rules to make it easier to pass his priorities, saying that the senators “look like fools.”
If Kelly has been recruited to bring order to a turbulent White House, the first decision he must make is where to concentrate his energies.
There is not a…