On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump began the latest NATO summit with an attack on an ally, telling the assembled reporters and NATO representatives in Brussels that “Germany is totally controlled by Russia.”
Videos of the remarks quickly went viral, and more than a few people noticed chief of staff John Kelly's face as Trump blasted Germany. As Trump makes the statement, Kelly seems to grimace before looking away.
“Germany is totally controlled by Russia,” Pres. Trump tells NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg as they sit down together for bilateral breakfast ahead of Brussels summit. https://t.co/CmyplgrxzN pic.twitter.com/6RnFk8Drgs
— ABC News (@ABC) July 11, 2018
Over the next minute, Kelly appears to take notes, frown a few more times and adjust his tie as the president goes on lambasting the European ally. On Trump's left side, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stays stone-faced.
This isn't the first time Kelly has grabbed attention for his facial expressions during one of the president's meetings. In April, he was spotted in an agriculture meeting burying his face into his palm. President Trump's Twitter account shared photos of the meeting but deleted them after people began pointing out Kelly's pained expression.
It appears @realDonaldTrump has deleted his tweet with a photo of the Agriculture Roundtable that was mocked for capturing Trump White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s signature facepalm https://t.co/AapMYlLXDm pic.twitter.com/2gq85VmTjS
— Anna Massoglia (@annalecta) April 13, 2018
And in September 2017, as President Trump was delivering his first speech to the United Nations, Kelly was also spotted with his head in his hand. During that speech, Trump threatened military action against North Korea and pledged to put America first.
John Kelly apparently went through some sort of existential crisis during Trump's UN speech. pic.twitter.com/v0JUz21klN
— Kyle Feldscher (@Kyle_Feldscher) September 19, 2017
Kelly's unflattering camera moments have become such a big deal that he even addressed them in an October 2017 press conference, telling reporters, “You guys with the cameras always catch me when I'm thinking hard and it looks like I'm frustrated and mad.”
For months, there have been rumors and reports that Kelly is unhappy in his role and that his departure is imminent. Last October, he pushed back on those allegations saying that he had no intention of leaving and telling reporters to “develop some better sources.”
But as recently as June, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump is on the hunt for Kelly's replacement.
While Kelly remains adamant that he's staying on as White House chief of staff, it would almost be unusual for Trump to keep a top aide around for very long. The only constant in the current administration has been turnover.
Kelly was named to the post after Trump showed Reince Priebus the door. Priebus' six-month-long tenure made him the shortest-serving chief of staff in history. Fortunately, Kelly has been in the role for a year, and his term won't go down in the history books as embarrassingly short, even if it was characterized by pained facial expressions.