Susan Walsh, File, Associated Press
FILE – In this June 6, 2017, file photo, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump named Kelly as his new Chief of Staff on July 28, ousting Reince Priebus.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is looking for a fresh start with a new White House chief of staff. But he’s still clinging to an old battle, refusing to give up on health care.
Weighed down by a stalled legislative agenda, a cabal of infighting West Wing aides and a stack of investigations, Trump is hoping that retired Gen. John Kelly can bring some order as his next chief of staff. Trump tapped Kelly, his Homeland Security secretary, last week to take over for Reince Priebus, who he ultimately viewed as ineffective.
Starting Monday, Kelly must try to exert control over a chaotic White House, but his ability to do so will depend on how much authority he is granted and whether Trump’s dueling aides will put aside their rivalries to work together. Also unclear is whether a new chief of staff will influence the president’s social media histrionics or his struggle to keep his focus on policy.
A battle-hardened commander, Kelly is entering a West Wing battered by crisis. Over the past week, Trump’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, attacked Priebus in a profanity-laden tirade, Trump drew criticism for his public attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the latest effort by Senate Republicans to overhaul the nation’s health care law bombed.
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney praised Priebus, but said Trump “wants a little bit more discipline, a little more structure in there. You know that he enjoys working with generals.”
Former Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski, who was ousted from the campaign in 2016, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he expected Kelly would “restore order to the staff” but also stressed that Trump was unlikely to change his style.
“I say you have to let Trump be Trump. That is what has made him successful over the last 30…