Trump pushes out Priebus, names Kelly WH chief of staff

El Dorado News-Times - - Front Page -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — His White House in tur­moil, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump abruptly an­nounced late Fri­day he was ap­point­ing Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John Kelly to be his chief of staff, end­ing the tu­mul­tuous six­month ten­ure of Reince Priebus.

Af­ter months of spec­u­la­tion about Priebus' fate, Trump tweeted his de­ci­sion as he landed in Wash­ing­ton af­ter a speech in New York in which he lav­ishly praised Kelly's per­for­mance at Home­land Se­cu­rity.

Priebus, the for­mer Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee head, had been a fre­quent tar­get of ru­mors about his job se­cu­rity amid in­fight­ing and con­fu­sion within the White House and a long whis­per cam­paign by Trump al­lies. Then, on Thurs­day, he was as­sailed in a re­mark­able and pro­fane pub­lic re­buke by Trump's newly ap­pointed White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, An­thony Scara­mucci.

Priebus said he had of­fered his res­ig­na­tion on Thurs­day and the pres­i­dent ac­cepted though those close to the pres­i­dent said the ouster had been in the works for weeks.

"I think the pres­i­dent wanted to go a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion," Priebus told CNN just hours af­ter his exit was an­nounced. He added that he agreed the White House might well ben­e­fit from "a re­set," and he said, "I'm al­ways go­ing to be a Trump fan. I'm on Team Trump."

Trump's an­nounce­ment on Twit­ter said, "I am pleased to in­form you that I have just named Gen­eral/ Sec­re­tary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great Amer­i­can ... and a Great Leader. John has also done a spec­tac­u­lar job at Home­land Se­cu­rity. He has been a true star of my Ad­min­is­tra­tion."

He also saluted Priebus, the chief of staff he had just pushed out.

"I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his ser­vice and ded­i­ca­tion to his coun­try. We ac­com­plished a lot to­gether and I am proud of him!"

Kelly is a re­tired Marine four-star gen­eral though he has lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence in civil­ian govern­ment or the leg­isla­tive process. Trump had fo­cused on him in re­cent days, telling those close to him that

he loved the gen­eral's star power and that he be­lieved mil­i­tary dis­ci­pline was what his ad­min­is­tra­tion needed.

Priebus never could bring a sem­blance of or­der to the team of in-fight­ing ri­vals that pop­u­late Trump's West Wing, and ques­tions about his fu­ture have long swirled around the of­fice. Those ques­tions sharply es­ca­lated this week with the ar­rival of Scara­mucci, the hard-charg­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor who was hired over Priebus' ob­jec­tions.

Priebus' al­ready tense re­la­tion­ship with Scara­mucci took a darker turn over the past two days when the com­mu­ni­ca­tions chief sug­gested in a late-night tweet that Priebus was one of the "leak­ers" that Trump has railed against. The New Yorker mag­a­zine pub­lished an in­ter­view Thurs­day in which Scara­mucci called Priebus, amid an avalanche of vul­gar­ity, a "para­noid schiz­o­phrenic."

Priebus, who hails from Wis­con­sin and has deep ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan, had grown in­creas­ingly iso­lated in the White House, as past Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee col­leagues and other al­lies have left or been pushed out. Those who have de­parted in­clude for­mer deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, for­mer com­mu­ni­ca­tions chief Mike Dubke, press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer and press aide Michael Short.

An­other early de­par­ture from the Trump White House was Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Michael Flynn, and Trump ousted FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey early on. He has lobbed Twit­ter in­sults at At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions re­cently though Ses­sions is still in place.

Ryan, in a state­ment, said Priebus "has left it all out on the field, for our party and our coun­try." Ryan added that he looked for­ward to work­ing with Kelly.

Both Scara­mucci and Priebus trav­eled to New York's Long Is­land with Trump on Fri­day for a speech in which the pres­i­dent high­lighted ef­forts to crack down on the gang MS-13. The chief of staff took the re­turn flight to Wash­ing­ton, his fate sealed in the tweets that were sent by the pres­i­dent just as Priebus stepped off the plane.

Shortly be­fore the pres­i­dent de­planed, Priebus' black SUV pulled away, leav­ing the rest of the mo­tor­cade, in­clud­ing the pres­i­dent's ve­hi­cle, in the dis­tance. The pres­i­dent even­tu­ally emerged, um­brella in hand, and de­liv­ered a brief state­ment on the run­way as driv­ing rain poured.

Rep. Peter King of New York sat across from the out­go­ing chief of staff on Air Force One's re­turn flight to Wash­ing­ton and said Priebus "kept a poker face."

Priebus' term ends in fewer than 200 days, the short­est ten­ure for any pres­i­dent's first White House chief of staff since the post was for­mally es­tab­lished in 1946. From day one, his power has been lim­ited com­pared with past of­fi­cials with his ti­tle. In a highly un­usual ar­range­ment, Trump said at the out­set that Priebus and chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non would serve as "equal part­ners" in im­ple­ment­ing his agenda.

Scara­mucci was the lat­est top aide to be granted a di­rect line to Trump, and it be­came in­creas­ingly un­clear who ac­tu­ally re­ported to Priebus. Though Priebus forged an un­easy truce with his for­mer foe Ban­non, pow­er­ful White House aides Ivanka Trump and her hus­band, Jared Kush­ner, were both sup­port­ive of Kelly's hire.

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