Trump's chief of staff John Kelly to leave White House

Arturo Kim
December 9, 2018

"John Kelly will be leaving, I don't know if I can say retiring but great guy", Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House.

President Donald Trump and chief-of-staff John Kelly.

Kelly's successor is widely expected to be Nick Ayers, the young, politically savvy chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence.

"John Kelly will be leaving".

Mr Ayers, who has young triplets, had long planned to leave the administration at the end of the year.

"John Kelly will be leaving at the end of the year", Trump said before heading to Philadelphia for the annual Army-Navy football game. The White House did not respond to request for comment about the discussions. He's been with me nearly two years now... Trump has chafed at Kelly's management style and resisted some of his moves to instill discipline in the West Wing and contain chaos.

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His iron first also alienated some long-time Trump allies and he grew increasingly isolated, with a greatly diminished role.

Kelly won credit for imposing some degree of order on the White House but he struggled with Trump's habit of throwing the focus off-course with rogue tweets and personal attacks, including against members of his own administration and party. In 2017, Politico report cited three US government officials who said Kelly's cellphone was compromised throughout the first half of that year, with the suspected breach potentially happening even before he began serving as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in January.

Trump insisted he will have a swift and comprehensive rebuttal to Mueller's findings into collusion between his 2016 presidential election campaign and Russian Federation - even though no details of the report's contents have been leaked. He fired Omarosa Manigault, the former reality star who served in a senior communications post, but she ended up recording the conversation, which took place in the secure Situation Room. During a wide-ranging news conference the day after the vote, the president deflected questions about the job security of Kelly and Jeff Sessions, the attorney general at the time. He immediately came under scrutiny over past remarks critical of a probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election and any collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. He called Confederate General Robert E. Lee an "honorable" man and defended former White House staffer Rob Porter against allegations of domestic violence, among other mishaps.

Staff changes are normal at the midpoint in a president's term, though Trump's penchant for drama and for announcing personnel on Twitter have added to a sense of ferment and uncertainty.

He however described the former Marine Corps general as a loyal aide during his tenure.

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