Trump shows Priebus the door

Home­land chief new staff leader

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has ousted his White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and named his home­land se­cu­rity sec­re­tary, re­tired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, to re­place him, the pres­i­dent an­nounced on Twit­ter on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

“I am pleased to in­form you that I have just named Gen­eral/Sec­re­tary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff,” Trump wrote. “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.

“I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his ser­vice and ded­i­ca­tion to his coun­try,” the pres­i­dent con­tin­ued. “We ac­com­plished a lot to­gether and I am proud of him!”

Priebus said he had of­fered his res­ig­na­tion on Thurs­day and the pres­i­dent ac­cepted.

“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.”

Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment capped a week of con­flict be­tween Priebus and Trump’s newly ap­pointed White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, An­thony Scara­mucci, who in a vul­gar­ity-laced pub­lic re­buke had ac­cused the chief of staff of leak­ing dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about him.

Priebus, a for­mer chair­man of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, had been named to the post in part to bring po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence to the Trump White House. But he clashed with Scara­mucci, a Wall Street fi­nancier, and had been un­der siege by Trump ad­vis­ers in­side and out­side of the White House who com­plained that he was in­ef­fec­tual.

Af­ter Scara­mucci was named com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor last week against Priebus’ ob­jec­tions, White House of­fi­cials widely be­lieved that Priebus’ po­si­tion had be­come more im­per­iled.

Scara­mucci’s ap­point­ment also had been op­posed by Priebus’ ally Sean Spicer, then the press sec­re­tary, who re­signed in protest.

On Fri­day, as Trump trav­eled to an event in Long Is­land, N.Y., he took both Scara­mucci and Priebus with him.

Asked to com­ment on the changes, Trump told reporters trav­el­ing with him on Air Force One that Priebus is a “good man” and that Kelly is “re­spected by ev­ery­body.”

Af­ter re­turn­ing to Wash­ing­ton, Priebus did not re­spond to reporters’ shouted ques­tions, though he later re­leased a state­ment say­ing it was “one of the great­est hon­ors of my life” to serve as chief of staff. His term to­taled 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.

Priebus and Spicer, the for­mer press sec­re­tary, had told the pres­i­dent that they be­lieved Scara­mucci, a hedge­fund man­ager and fundraiser, lacked the po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence and or­ga­ni­za­tional skills re­quired to serve in the role of com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor.

Scara­mucci made clear when he was hired that he re­ported not to Priebus but di­rectly to the pres­i­dent, and by Wed­nes­day night, he was pub­licly sug­gest­ing that the chief of staff was a leaker and even threat­ened to seek an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion. On Thurs­day, he went on tele­vi­sion and dared Priebus to deny leak­ing and de­scribed the two of them as Cain and Abel, the bi­b­li­cal broth­ers whose ri­valry re­sults in one killing the other.

On Thurs­day even­ing, The New Yorker posted an in­ter­view with Scara­mucci that in­cluded a vul­gar­ity- laced tirade against Priebus. He called Priebus a “para­noid schiz­o­phrenic, a para­noiac,” who leaked in­for­ma­tion against him and vowed to get him fired. “He’ll be asked to re­sign very shortly,” Scara­mucci said.

As party chair­man last year, Priebus was slow to em­brace Trump’s can­di­dacy, and the pres­i­dent, who some­times called him “Reincey” in pri­vate, never let his chief of staff for­get it. Trump had of­ten joked about his chief of staff’s long-term loy­alty and liked re­mind­ing the peo­ple around him that Priebus sug­gested that he con­sider drop­ping out af­ter the re­lease of the Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood tape of Trump’s crude re­marks about women in Oc­to­ber.

A na­tive of Kenosha, Wis., Priebus rose through the ranks of the Repub­li­can Party to be his state’s chair­man, amass­ing power by es­tab­lish­ing re­la­tion­ships with party donors and be­com­ing an ef­fec­tive op­er­a­tor within the na­tional party, which he was cho­sen to lead in 2011. One of his top al­lies was a fel­low Repub­li­can from Wis­con­sin, House Speaker Paul Ryan.

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.

The re­tired gen­eral, for his part, said he is “hon­ored to be asked” to take the job.

As home­land se­cu­rity sec­re­tary, Kelly has taken the lead on some of Trump’s most con­tentious poli­cies, in­clud­ing his ex­ec­u­tive or­ders sus­pend­ing the ad­mis­sion of refugees and tem­po­rar­ily bar­ring vis­i­tors from sev­eral Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity na­tions. Those or­ders have been stripped down by courts pend­ing a Supreme Court re­view this fall.

Peo­ple who know Kelly said in in­ter­views that he was not aware of the de­tails of those ini­tial or­ders un­til around the time that Trump signed them. Yet, just days af­ter tak­ing of­fice, Kelly had to lead the agency as it dealt with the con­fu­sion that en­sued at air­ports in the U.S. and around the world. He de­fended the or­ders to reporters and law­mak­ers and in­sisted that he in­deed had been part of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process.

Kelly has also pushed for sup­port for Trump’s sig­na­ture cam­paign pledge to build a wall along the south­ern bor­der, though he ac­knowl­edged at his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing that “a phys­i­cal bar­rier in and of it­self will not do the job.”

Kelly has a warm rap­port with White House chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non, who has worked closely with him on shap­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s bor­der en­force­ment pol­icy. They have built a con­nec­tion over their fam­i­lies’ mil­i­tary ser­vice. Ban­non, a for­mer Navy of­fi­cer, has a daugh­ter who grad­u­ated from the U.S. Mil­i­tary Academy at West Point.

Kelly is also well-liked by Jared Kush­ner, Trump’s son-in-law and se­nior ad­viser. Kush­ner has de­scribed him to as­so­ciates as the kind of fig­ure he’d like to see have more say in the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., a fre­quent Trump critic, said that, as home­land se­cu­rity chief, Kelly has “been very ef­fec­tive in en­gag­ing mem­bers of Congress and com­mu­ni­cat­ing a co­her­ent mes­sage for the pres­i­dent.”

“Sec­re­tary Kelly is one of the strong­est and most nat­u­ral lead­ers I’ve ever known,” Gra­ham said.

Yet at least one Trump ad­viser was op­posed to the choice, ar­gu­ing that Kelly did not have the po­lit­i­cal back­ground for the job.

“The pres­i­dent needs some­one who un­der­stands the Trump con­stituency as his chief of staff, some­one who has both ad­min­is­tra­tive skills and po­lit­i­cal savvy,” said Roger Stone, Trump’s off-and-on ad­viser, an­tic­i­pat­ing Kelly’s se­lec­tion be­fore the an­nounce­ment was made.

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Peter Baker, Mag­gie Haberman and Julie Hirschfeld Davis of The New

York Times; by Abby Phillip and Robert Costa of The Wash­ing­ton

Post; and by Jonathan Lemire, Jill Colvin, Cather­ine Lucey, Vi­vian Salama, Steve Peo­ples and Lau­rie Kell­man of The As­so­ci­ated Press.


Reince Priebus heads to Air Force One on Fri­day at An­drews Air Force Base in Mary­land.


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, shown with Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John Kelly in May at the Coast Guard Academy com­mence­ment in New Lon­don, Conn., named Kelly as his new chief of staff Fri­day.

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