Trump reshuf­fles his Cab­i­net

Centre Daily Times - - News - BY JOSH DAWSEY AND JOHN WAG­NER

WASH­ING­TON

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day ac­cel­er­ated a long-an­tic­i­pated shakeup of his Cab­i­net in the wake of the midterm elec­tions, nam­ing new picks for at­tor­ney gen­eral and U.N. am­bas­sador amid wide­spread spec­u­la­tion that the em­bat­tled White House chief of staff John Kelly could soon de­part.

Trump con­firmed his choices of Wil­liam Barr to lead the Jus­tice Depart­ment and Heather Nauert for the United Na­tions post as he left the White House, speak­ing to re­porters over the din of whirring blades from Ma­rine One.

If con­firmed by the Se­nate, Barr will take over for act­ing at­tor­ney gen­eral Matthew Whi­taker. An un­fet­tered Trump in­stalled him in place of the ousted Jeff Ses­sions less than 24 hours af­ter the polls closed on Nov. 6 in the first move of an ex­pected over­haul of Cab­i­net sec­re­taries and se­nior White House aides.

Af­ter a CNN re­port Fri­day morn­ing that Kelly could be step­ping down in a mat­ter of days, Trump did not pause long enough to take ques­tions from re­porters, though he teased he would make an­other big per­son­nel an­nounce­ment Satur­day.

In a move that re­flects his pen­chant for show­man­ship, the pres­i­dent plans to an­nounce his nom­i­na­tion of Gen. Mark Mil­ley at Satur­day’s an­nual Army-Navy foot­ball game in Philadel­phia, end­ing months of spec­u­la­tion about who will re­place the cur­rent chair­man, Gen. Joseph Dun­ford Jr., who is due to step down next fall.

Kelly was not at work Fri­day morn­ing, though an ally said he was sim­ply tak­ing a day off and would be at the White House for a hol­i­day staff din­ner Fri­day night. The lights were off in his West Wing of­fice.

He has not been asked to re­sign, this per­son said, re­quest­ing anonymity to speak can­didly about a per­son­nel mat­ter.

Among White House of­fi­cials, how­ever, there is broad con­sen­sus that his days as chief of staff are num­bered.

One se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said Fri­day that it’s clear Kelly will be leav­ing though said it’s not cer­tain that the de­par­ture was im­mi­nent as CNN re­ported. The of­fi­cial re­quested anonymity to dis­cuss a sen­si­tive mat­ter.

Trump has en­gaged in talks with Nick Ay­ers, the vice pres­i­dent’s chief of staff, about tak­ing over the po­si­tion, ad­vis­ers said. The pres­i­dent of­ten re­marks on Kelly’s lack of po­lit­i­cal skills and has told ad­vis­ers in re­cent days that he needs a more po­lit­i­cal chief of staff for his re­elec­tion. Ay­ers, a sharp-el­bowed and am­bi­tious Ge­or­gia op­er­a­tive, fits the bill, ad­vis­ers said.

But the story line of Kelly’s de­par­ture has been pro­tracted for so many months that White House aides of­ten now just shrug.

“Sure, Trump says he wants him gone, and Kelly swears and leaves and says he’s not com­ing back. But then he comes back,” said one for­mer se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial, who re­quested anonymity to of­fer a can­did as­sess­ment.

Trump had noth­ing but praise for the two new Cab­i­net mem­bers who he an­nounced Fri­day that he would nom­i­nate for the Se­nate.

He told re­porters that Barr, who led the Jus­tice Depart­ment un­der for­mer pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, was “my first choice since day one” and said is “a ter­rific man, a ter­rific per­son, a bril­liant man.”

Nauert, 48, joined the State Depart­ment last year with no gov­ern­ment ex­pe­ri­ence af­ter a ca­reer as an an­chor and cor­re­spon­dent at Fox News.

“She’s very tal­ented, very smart, very quick, and I think she’s go­ing to be re­spected by all,” Trump said.

SCOTT APPLEWHITE AP

Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, right, and Wil­liam Barr wave af­ter Barr was sworn in as U.S. at­tor­ney gen­eral in 1991.

Heather Nauert

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