PRIEBUS SENT PACKING
With a tweet, President Donald Trump ended the turbulent six-month tenure of Reince Priebus, near right, as his chief of staff. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, far right, will take his place, and Trump hopes the retired general can give his administration the military discipline it needs. »
WASHINGTON» 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 six-month tenure of Reince Priebus.
After months of speculation about Priebus’ fate, Trump tweeted his decision just 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, was the frequent target of rumors about his job security amid infighting within the White House and a long whisper campaign by Trump allies. Then, he was the subject of a remarkable public rebuke by the new White House communications director.
Priebus told allies he offered his resignation Thursday.
Trump’s Twitter announcement 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. “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!”
Speaking to reporters on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, Trump said: “Reince is a good man. John Kelly will do a fantastic job.”
Kelly is a retired Marine four-star general. Trump had focused on him in recent days, telling those close to him that he believed military discipline was what his administration needed.
Priebus never could bring order to the team of infighting 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 Anthony Scaramucci, the hardcharging communications director who was hired over Priebus’ objections.
Priebus’ already tense relationship with Scaramucci took a darker turn when the communications chief suggested in a 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 a “paranoid schizophrenic.”
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. Priebus’ 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.
Priebus was blamed by some in the White House for the Republican health care plan failure, with some Trump allies believing Priebus’ longtime relationships with Republicans should have ensured passage.