Trump May Be on Collision Course With Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly

While Trump's dismissal of acting Attorney General Sally Yates captures headlines, Kelly is reportedly displeased over the travel ban, Trump's stance on torture and White House efforts to nominate Kris Kobach as his deputy.

Donald Trump and John Kelly at the Department of Homeland Security, January 25, 2017.
JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

WASHINGTON, D.C. - While the clash between President Donald Trump and acting Attorney General Sally Yates conquered headlines Monday night, a Wall Street Journal report suggests that the White House may be on a collision course with Trump's Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. 

The former Marines General, chosen by Trump for the post in part because of his military experience, is reportedly "frustrated" over how the White House managed the roll-out of Friday's executive order banning the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Kelly was not informed in advance of the order's contents, and was not able to prepare his agency accordingly. 

According to the Journal's report, "Trump signed the executive order that created the ban late Friday afternoon. Mr. Kelly was only informed of the details that day as he was traveling to Washington, even though he had pressed the White House for days to share with him the final language." As Kelly received angry calls from lawmakers over the weekend (including two from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer), he wasn't updated on the necessary details. 

In addition, the report claims that White House officials pushed to nominate Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an immigration hard-liner, as Kelly's deputy. Kelly managed to push back against those attempts, explaining that he preferred to choose someone with relevant experience in homeland security. Still, Kobach's supporters in the White House - perhaps including other immigration hardliners like Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller - did not easily give up.

Kelly and Trump additionally fail to see eye-to-eye on the use of torture as part of interrogations. While Kelly said during his confirmation hearing that it is a line that shouldn't be crossed, Trump in recent days has talked about re-authorizing certain torture techniques, adding that he had no doubt that torture works. He did, however, say that any decision on the issue would ultimately be at the hands of Defense Secretary James Mattis, who is clearly against it.