Chief of staff Kelly to leave at end of year

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - World - XIN­HUA— AP

WASH­ING­TON — US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said on Satur­day that chief of staff John Kelly will leave his job by year’s end amid an ex­pected West Wing reshuf­fling re­flect­ing a fo­cus on the 2020 re-elec­tion cam­paign and the chal­lenge of gov­ern­ing with Democrats re­claim­ing con­trol of the House.

Nick Ay­ers, Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence’s chief of staff, is Trump’s top choice to re­place Kelly, and the two have held dis­cus­sions for months about the job, a White House of­fi­cial said.

An an­nounce­ment was ex­pected in the com­ing days, the pres­i­dent told re­porters as he left the White House for the Army-Navy foot­ball game in Philadel­phia.

Kelly had been cred­ited with im­pos­ing or­der on a chaotic West Wing af­ter his ar­rival in June 2017 from his post as home­land se­cu­rity sec­re­tary. But his iron fist also alien­ated some long­time Trump al­lies, and he grew more iso­lated, with an in­creas­ingly di­min­ished role.

“John Kelly will leav­ing — I don’t know if I can say re­tir­ing — but he’s a great guy,” Trump said. “John Kelly will be leav­ing at the end of the year. We’ll be an­nounc­ing who will be tak­ing John’s place — it might be on an in­terim ba­sis. I’ll be an­nounc­ing that over the next day or two, but John will be leav­ing at the end of the year. ... I ap­pre­ci­ate his ser­vice very much.”

Mean­while, Trump tapped State De­part­ment Spokesper­son Heather Nauert as the next US en­voy to the United Na­tions, whose fairly blank re­sume in for­eign pol­icy may place tough chal­lenges ahead for her, ex­perts said.

Trump an­nounced his de­ci­sion on Fri­day, prais­ing the 48-yearold spokes­woman as a “very tal­ented, very smart, very quick” per­son who worked well with State Sec­re­tary Mike Pom­peo.

The gov­ern­ment’s se­nior of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Pom­peo and the White House Spokesper­son Sarah San­ders, voiced their sup­port for Nauert, a long­time Fox News host be­fore join­ing the State De­part­ment in April 2017, ex­press­ing con­fi­dence that she will be “a strong voice for the United States” at the UN.

But pick­ing Nauert to rep­re­sent the coun­try in the in­ter­na­tional arena is seen by ex­perts as an un­ortho­dox choice, as the vet­eran news pre­sen­ter had lit­tle po­lit­i­cal or for­eign pol­i­cy­mak­ing ex­pe­ri­ence apart from her less-than-two-year ten­ure in the State De­part­ment.

Dar­rell West, a se­nior fel­low at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, said loy­alty was as a key fac­tor. “He (Trump) ap­pointed her be­cause of her per­sonal loy­alty to him and align­ment with his for­eign pol­icy goals,” he said.

How­ever, some ex­perts be­lieve that Nauert may face a tough Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing over her qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

“The loud­est op­po­si­tion will come from Democrats”, said Galdieri, who be­lieves that Nauert’s al­most to­tal lack of diplo­matic ex­pe­ri­ence will be the most ob­vi­ous weak point that the law­mak­ers will zero in on.

Some schol­ars ac­knowl­edged that Nauert has strong points that weigh in her fa­vor.

“It is worth not­ing that she has now worked closely with two Sec­re­taries of State over the past two years,” said Dan Ma­haf­fee, the se­nior vice-pres­i­dent and direc­tor of pol­icy at the Cen­ter for the Study of the Pres­i­dency and Congress.

Trump on Satur­day also an­nounced that he wants Gen­eral Mark Mil­ley, who has been chief of the Army since Au­gust 2015, to be the na­tion’s next top mil­i­tary ad­viser.

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