In this April 3, 2018 photo, President Donald Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly attends a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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When President Donald Trump made a congratulatory phone call to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, White House chief of staff John Kelly wasn't on the line.Kelly, once empowered to bring order to a turbulent West Wing, has receded from view, his clout diminished, his word less trusted by staff and his guidance less tolerated by an increasingly go-it-alone president.Emboldened in his job, Trump has rebelled against Kelly's restrictions and mused about doing away with the chief of staff post entirely. It's all leading White House staffers and Trump allies to believe that Kelly is working on borrowed time.For months, Kelly made it a practice to listen in to many of the president's calls, particularly with world leaders. While he is still on the line for some of those conversations, Kelly was not part of the call Trump made to Putin last month from the White House residence during which Trump ignored advisers' advice against congratulating the Russian president on his re-election.Some White House aides contend that Kelly has been intentionally giving Trump more leeway to be himself and that Kelly recognizes that's what Trump wants.
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