Trump says Kelly will de­part as chief of staff job at end of year

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By JEFF MA­SON and STEVE HOL­LAND

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will leave his job at the end of this year, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said on Satur­day, mark­ing the big­gest in a string of changes one month af­ter the Repub­li­can Party lost con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the midterm elec­tions.

Trump, who spoke to re­porters as he left the White House to at­tend the an­nual foot­ball game be­tween the Army and Navy mil­i­tary acad­e­mies in Philadel­phia, said he would name a re­place­ment for Kelly, pos­si­bly on an in­terim ba­sis, within the next day or two.

Trump brought Kelly in last year to re­store or­der to his White House staff, but has clashed re­peat­edly with him in re­cent months.

“He’s a great guy,” Trump said of Kelly, who led the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity be­fore join­ing the White House. “I ap­pre­ci­ate his ser­vice very much.”

The an­nounce­ment capped weeks of mount­ing spec­u­la­tion. A source said last month that the pres­i­dent was con­sid­er­ing re­plac­ing Kelly with Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence’s chief of staff, 36-year-old Repub­li­can strate­gist Nick Ay­ers.

Kelly’s im­pend­ing de­par­ture is part of a broad over­haul de­signed to re­cal­i­brate Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion as it faces a new re­al­ity in Washington, with Democrats set to take con­trol of the House in Jan­uary and the 2020 pres­i­den­tial race ap­proach­ing.

On Fri­day, Trump an­nounced his choice of Wil­liam Barr, who was at­tor­ney gen­eral un­der for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush in the 1990s, to re­turn to his job as the head of the Jus­tice Depart­ment.

He also picked Heather Nauert, spokes­woman at the State Depart­ment and a for­mer Fox News pre­sen­ter, to be­come US am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions.

Kelly, 68, had some suc­cess in restor­ing or­der to Trump’s White House af­ter he was ap­pointed in July 2017.

The rocky re­la­tion­ship be­tween Kelly and the pres­i­dent was high­lighted in “Fear: Trump in the White House,” a book by Washington Post re­porter Bob Wood­ward that was re­leased in Septem­ber.

In it, Kelly was shown as one of sev­eral White House fig­ures ques­tion­ing Trump’s abil­i­ties and was quoted as call­ing the pres­i­dent “un­hinged” and “an id­iot.”

“It’s point­less to try to con­vince him of any­thing,” the book quoted Kelly as say­ing dur­ing a meeting. “He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazy­town. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

Kelly later de­nied call­ing Trump an id­iot and said the book was “an­other pa­thetic at­tempt to smear” Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

He is­sued a sim­i­lar de­nial in April af­ter NBC News re­ported he had re­ferred to Trump as an id­iot on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions and said the pres­i­dent did not un­der­stand pol­icy or how the gov­ern­ment works.

Trump made Kelly chief of staff af­ter the de­par­ture of Reince Priebus, who served around six months in the job.

As head of Home­land Se­cu­rity, Kelly backed Trump’s ban on travel from cer­tain coun­tries, but at times ap­peared at odds with the pres­i­dent’s agenda.

In Jan­uary, he told Fox News that Trump was not “fully in­formed” when he made his sig­na­ture prom­ise to build a wall on the US bor­der with Mex­ico to block il­le­gal im­mi­grants and drug smug­glers.

Kelly, who was born and raised in Bos­ton, sparked a back­lash on cer­tain is­sues and state­ments he has made. Un­like other key cabi­net ap­point­ments, the White House chief of staff does not re­quire con­fir­ma­tion by the US Se­nate.

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