Chief of staff:

San Francisco Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - By Zeke Miller and Jill Colvin Zeke Miller and Jill Colvin are As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers.

John Kelly, above, ap­pears to be on the way out as the pres­i­dent inches closer to a long-teased shakeup of the White House staff.

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Trump inched closer to his long-teased ma­jor White House shake-up Fri­day, gear­ing up for the twin chal­lenges of bat­tling for re-elec­tion and deal­ing with the Democrats’ in­ves­ti­ga­tions once they take control of the House. The big­gest piece of the shift­ing pic­ture: Chief of Staff John Kelly’s de­par­ture now ap­pears cer­tain.

Kelly’s re­place­ment in the com­ing weeks is ex­pected to have a rip­ple ef­fect through­out the ad­min­is­tra­tion. Ac­cord­ing to nearly a dozen cur­rent and for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials and out­side con­fi­dants, Trump is nearly ready to re­place Kelly and has even be­gun telling peo­ple to con­tact the man long viewed as his likely suc­ces­sor.

“Give Nick a call,” Trump has in­structed peo­ple, re­fer­ring to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ay­ers, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the dis­cus­sions. Like all of those in­ter­viewed, the per­son spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Trump has hardly been shy about his dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the team he has cho­sen, and has been weigh­ing all sorts of changes over the past sev­eral months. He de­layed some of the big­gest un­til af­ter the Novem­ber elec­tions at the urg­ing of aides who wor­ried that adding to his al­ready record turnover just be­fore the vot­ing would harm his party’s elec­toral chances.

Now, nearly a month af­ter those midterms, in which his party sur­ren­dered control of the House to Democrats, Trump is mak­ing moves.

Ay­ers, who is a sea­soned cam­paign vet­eran de­spite his rel­a­tive youth — he’s just 36 — has the back­ing of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kush­ner, the pres­i­dent’s daugh­ter and son-in-law and se­nior ad­vis­ers, for the new role, ac­cord­ing to White House of­fi­cials.

Trump and Kelly’s re­la­tion­ship has been strained for months — with Kelly on the verge of res­ig­na­tion and Trump nearly fir­ing him sev­eral times. But each time the two have de­cided to make amends, even as Kelly’s in­flu­ence has waned.

Kelly, a re­tired Ma­rine Corps four-star gen­eral, was tapped by Trump in Au­gust 2017 to try to nor­mal­ize a White House that had been riven by in­fight­ing.

Doug Mills / New York Times

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (left) con­fers with Nick Ay­ers, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence’s chief of staff, in the White House in Au­gust.

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