The biggest threat to the Trump presidency, the markets and our ability to deal with future crises is the coming staff exodus. We cannot stress enough how many essential staff and officials want out — if not this quarter, then soon after the new year:
- Watch for Gary Cohn to bolt after tax reform, which we think slips into Q1 of 2018.
- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's situation is untenable: We hear he's likely to leave by the new year. Many insiders think U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will replace him. Then Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell may take Haley's job in New York. Another possible successor in case of a Rexit: CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
- Chief of Staff John Kelly is the one to watch closest. He doesn't get enough credit for the discipline he has enforced inside the White House. He bristles at the boss's loose, erratic ways, though. The average tenure of a COS who likes his job is roughly a year. A weak chief of staff replacing Kelly would be hugely problematic.