John Kelly probably thought that he was operating by the old rules. There are just things that one did not do. Lines one does not cross.
Yet, after working as Donald Trump’s chief of staff for two and half months why didn’t he realize that Trump doesn’t have any lines? When Trump is attacked, he fights back with whatever he can, even if it means fighting dirty. In fact, Trump’s base is tired of Washington’s version of the the Marquess of Queensberry rules. They want him to fight to win, and they don’t care how.
So Trump had no compulsions about dragging Kelly’s dead Marine son into a Twitter battle that he was having with a Gold Star family and their congresswoman. What is surprising is that Kelly allowed himself to be goaded into defending Trump publicly, even spouting ‘facts’ that turned out to be false.
Kelly, a Gold Star father, publicly lied to defend his boss’ public lies about his conversation with a Gold Star mother.
Kelly’s wife is probably furious with him for not telling off Trump after he brought their son’s death into national politics and for then allowing his integrity, and by extension their family’s, to be publicly compromised.
But what can Kelly do? He likely believes, as Bob Corker pointed out, that he is one of the few people keeping Trump from starting World War Three. His sense of duty to the country won’t let him quit.
Once a bully finds out he can roll over you, he will keep doing it. Trump rolled over Kelly and got away with it. And now he owns Kelly.