After John Kelly became chief of staff on Monday—taking over from the comically ineffectual Reince Priebus—there were some signs that President Trump was maybe, just maybe, beginning to not act like a toddler all the time. The tweeting and the outbursts were cut to a minimum. The New York Times reported on Thursday evening that Kelly was moving to instill “military discipline” in the West Wing:
Kelly cuts off rambling advisers midsentence. He listens in on conversations between cabinet secretaries and the president. He has booted lingering staff members out of high-level meetings, and ordered the doors of the Oval Office closed to discourage strays. He fired Anthony Scaramucci, the bombastic New Yorker who was briefly the communications director, and has demanded that even Mr. Trump’s family, including his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, check with him if they want face time with the president.
Well, it was good while it lasted. Trump waited a few hours to unload after multiple outlets reported that special counsel Robert Mueller had impaneled a grand jury, but unload he did. First, at a rally in West Virginia, he once again moved the goalposts on the Russia story, this time bizarrely claiming that because no Russians were a part of the Trump campaign, there could have been no collusion:
And then, on Friday morning, Trump once again waded into the investigation, this time retweeting a clip from Fox & Friends suggesting that there would be an “uproar” if Mueller’s Russia probe ensnared a member of the president’s family. (CNN reported on Thursday that Mueller had issued subpoenas relating to Don Jr.’s meeting with a bunch of Russians in 2016.)
This is clearly a message aimed at Mueller: Mess with the Trump family and there will be consequences. And, while Trump had largely stayed silent this week, it’s clear that he’s still itching for a very public fight with the special counsel.
As for military discipline, Trump has tweeted eleven times this morning—and John Kelly has presumably set his “days without a tweetstorm” tracker back to zero.