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What Are Generals Mattis & Kelly So Afraid Of?

Pragmatic top-down policy or anxious bottom-up babysitting?

Deep in the background of an AP report on the decision to replace Anthony Scaramucci with  John Kelly, The Hill reports that two of President Trump's top advisers reportedly agreed in the early days of the administration that they would not leave the United States at the same time, in order to ensure they could monitor orders coming from the White House.

The pact, revealed to The AP by an anonymous official close to Mattis and Kelly, seems to hint at the nature of the Trump administration's internal relations.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis and then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly also agreed in the earliest weeks of Trump's presidency that one of them should remain in the United States at all times to keep tabs on the orders rapidly emerging from the White House, according to a person familiar with the discussions. The official insisted on anonymity in order to discuss the administration's internal dynamics.

Both Mattis and Kelly have been active in providing clarification of executive orders released by the White House.

With Kelly now Trump's right hand, we suspect the 'control' will improve (though the tweets haven't slowed down yet). Citi was very positive on Kelly's appointment.

From a markets perspective, I see this as exceedingly positive - Kelly's appointment should lead to a tighter message, far less drama (and the accompanying headline risk) and a focus on passing Trump's business-friendly agenda. 

 

As an American, I am cautiously optimistic, trying to believe this transition as “bouncing off the bottom” following a difficult week for the administration. 

 

Trump, a graduate of adolescent military school, is expected to embrace the new, disciplined WH culture that should allow him to focus on his agenda as opposed to bouncing from controversy to tweet to controversy to tweet.

But we still wonder - as we did at the start - are Mattis and Kelly staying close to Trump by the president's pragmatic leadership demanding his highest ranking generals are close... or did they decide unilaterally that Trump should not be left alone?

And if so - what are they so afraid of?