Nov 1, 2017

How John Kelly risks his credibility

John Kelly in the White House Briefing Room. Photo: Susan Walsh / AP

Upon his ascension to White House chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly was widely viewed as a moderating force for the Trump administration. But, like any good soldier, he stepped straight into the breach for President Trump in the culture wars this week, branding Robert E. Lee as "honorable" and refusing to apologize to a Gold Star widow in an interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham.

What we're hearing: Credibility is currency, especially in Washington, and Kelly is already seeing his portrayal in the media change after he took a very public, partisan stance that undermined his authority as Trump's voice of reason.

Swan has the inside look from the White House:

"Several administration officials have told me, after the Laura Ingraham interview on Fox, that they worry Kelly is undermining his unique status. They say the more of these appearances he does — the more he fights polarizing culture wars — his public image will quickly morph into more of a sharp-elbowed right-wing operative than an above-the-fray four star general."

A taste of the shifting headlines on Kelly:

The New York Times: "Pitched as Calming Force, John Kelly Instead Mirrors Boss's Priorities"

  • "For all of the talk of Mr. Kelly as a moderating force and the so-called grown-up in the room, it turns out that he harbors strong feelings on patriotism, national security and immigration that mirror the hard-line views of his outspoken boss. With his attack on a congresswoman who had criticized Mr. Trump's condolence call to a slain soldier's widow last week, Mr. Kelly showed that he was willing to escalate a politically distracting, racially charged public fight even with false assertions."

AP: "The real John Kelly slowly revealing himself at White House"

  • "Much has been made of the imagery of Kelly silently lurking on the sidelines of presidential addresses, seeming to cringe when Trump gets out of line. But it may be wishful thinking by Trump's critics to believe that he's tugging the president in another direction."

The Washington Post: "Kelly was brought to the White House to impose order. Now he's stirring controversy."

  • "'He violated the first basic rule of the chief of staff, which is not to make yourself the news of the day,' said former defense secretary Leon E. Panetta, who worked with Kelly in the Pentagon and also served as White House chief of staff. 'I have no idea what he was trying to say because history is not on his side.'"

Commentary: "General Kelly's Disastrous Interview"

  • "John Kelly's decision to weigh in on cultural and political matters has been clarifying, but that clarity is not always so laudable. The comments he made on Fox range from bewildering to reprehensible."

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 857,487 — Total deaths: 42,107 — Total recoveries: 178,034.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 188,172 — Total deaths: 3,873 — Total recoveries: 7,024.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: UN warns of recession with "no parallel" to recent past

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus pandemic is the "greatest test" the world has faced together since the formation of the United Nations just after the Second World War ended in 1945, UN chief António Guterres said Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 856,000 and the death toll exceeded 42,000 Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 12,000 deaths.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

White House projects 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths

President Trump said at a press briefing on Tuesday that the next two weeks in the U.S. will be "very painful" and that he wants "every American to be prepared for the days that lie ahead," before giving way to Deborah Birx to explain the models informing the White House's new guidance on the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It's a somber new tone from the president that comes after his medical advisers showed him data projecting that the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health