John Kelly will leave his role as Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff “at the end of the year”, the president said on Saturday. The retired Marine Corps general has spent 16 months in the position. Trump lashes out at Mueller after bombshell Cohen and Manafort filings Read more Trump spoke to reporters gathered…
John Kelly will leave his role as Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff “at the end of the year”, the president said on Saturday. The retired Marine Corps general has spent 16 months in the position.
Trump spoke to reporters gathered on the South Lawn of the White House, as he left Washington for the army v navy football game in Philadelphia.
“John Kelly will be leaving – I don’t know if I can say ‘retiring’,” the president said. “But, he’s a great guy. John Kelly will be leaving at the end of the year. We’ll be announcing who will be taking John’s place … I’ll be announcing that over the next day or two.”
Nick Ayers, the 36-year-old chief of staff to the vice-president, Mike Pence, has been named by a number of reports as a likely successor. News outlets have reported dissent in the White House over Ayers’ rise, which Politico said this week could lead to staff departures.
The website quoted a “former White House official” as saying: “People are threatened by Nick’s age and his reputation as this young political savant. He has the endorsements of Jared [Kushner], Ivanka [Trump] and Pence, but not a lot of fans beyond that.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that the relationship between Kelly and Trump had completely broken down, leading the president to tell an associate to “stop calling John” and to instead “call Nick, he’s my guy”.
On Saturday, Trump said: “John will be leaving at the end of the year. He’s been with me almost two years now.”
Kelly was Trump’s first homeland security secretary before he replaced former Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus at the head of White House operations in July 2017.
Reports of his exasperation with Trump and impending departure, whether by choice or forced, became a regular feature of Washington gossip, not least after the veteran journalist Bob Woodward wrote in his bestselling book Fear that Kelly called Trump an “idiot” at the head of a “Crazytown” administration.
Kelly dutifully denied such reports and stayed in post. In an unpredictable administration he sometimes became the focus of press attention himself, whether for his apparent public reactions to Trump’s outbursts or when he attacked a congresswoman who criticised the president’s handling of a call to the mother of a serviceman killed in Niger.
It was reported this week that Kelly has been interviewed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference, links between Trump aides and Moscow and potential obstruction of justice by the president. The reports said his relationship with Trump had completely broken down.
As chief of staff, Kelly carried out a number of firings decided by Trump, including that of adviser Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who surreptitiously recorded the meeting and released the tape to the press. It was also reported he called Jeff Sessions to request his resignation as attorney general.
Last month, NBC News reported that Kelly frequently clashed with Melania Trump over staffing and logistical issues.