Trump chief of staff leav­ing

VP’s chief of staff likely suc­ces­sor for White House job

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Josh Dawsey, Se­ung Min Kim and Philip Rucker

The pres­i­dent says John Kelly will de­part at the end of the year, con­tin­u­ing a ma­jor staff shakeup.

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­nounced Satur­day that White House chief of staff John Kelly would exit his post by the end of the year, cap­ping the re­tired Ma­rine gen­eral’s rocky ten­ure as the pres­i­dent’s top aide and por­tend­ing a ma­jor per­son­nel shake-up as Trump pre­pares to nav­i­gate a di­vided Congress and fo­cuses on his re-elec­tion cam­paign.

White House of­fi­cials said the two men had a pri­vate dis­cus­sion Fri­day after months of mount­ing frus­tra­tion on the part of the pres­i­dent about his chief of staff and non­stop spec­u­la­tion about Kelly’s fu­ture.

Kelly is likely to be re­placed by Nick Ay­ers, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence’s chief of staff and an ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paign op­er­a­tive who pos­sesses the po­lit­i­cal skills and net­work that Trump felt Kelly lacked.

But the de­par­ture of Kelly, a four-star gen­eral with bat­tle­field ex­pe­ri­ence and deep gov­ern­ment know-how, de­prives the West Wing of a sea­soned leader who was seen by al­lies as a check on some of the pres­i­dent’s most reck­less im­pulses.

The se­lec­tion of Ay­ers was not fi­nal Satur­day as the pres­i­dent at­tended the Army-Navy foot­ball game in Philadel­phia, and the two men re­mained in ne­go­ti­a­tions about the amount of time Ay­ers would com­mit to serve, ac­cord­ing to White House of­fi­cials.

As he de­parted the White House on Satur­day, Trump told re­porters that he would

name a re­place­ment in com­ing days, and that it may be on an in­terim ba­sis.

“John Kelly will be leav­ing — I don’t know if I can say ‘re­tir­ing.’ But, he’s a great guy,” Trump said on the South Lawn of the White House as he pre­pared to board the Ma­rine One pres­i­den­tial he­li­copter. “John Kelly will be leav­ing to­ward the end of the year, at the end of the year.”

Ear­lier Satur­day, Trump picked an Army gen­eral, Mark Mil­ley, to be his next top mil­i­tary ad­viser.

If con­firmed by the Sen­ate, Gen. Mil­ley, who has been chief of the Army

since Au­gust 2015, would suc­ceed Ma­rine Gen. Joseph Dun­ford as chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dun­ford’s term doesn’t end un­til Oct. 1.

Mil­ley com­manded troops dur­ing sev­eral tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kelly’s ten­ure in the White House came with its suc­cesses and fail­ures and un­der­scored a big­ger ques­tion: How much dif­fer­ence can any White House chief of staff make with the head­strong and mer­cu­rial pres­i­dent, who often gov­erns by im­pulse and tweet, is un­in­ter­ested in read­ing lengthy

doc­u­ments and is hap­pi­est at his rau­cous ral­lies?

Cur­rent and former aides say Kelly brought much­needed dis­ci­pline to a dys­func­tional West Wing by lim­it­ing the num­ber of vis­i­tors to the Oval Of­fice, curb­ing er­ro­neous in­for­ma­tion from the pres­i­dent’s desk and lim­it­ing at­ten­dance at meet­ings to peo­ple who needed to be present. He often talked the pres­i­dent out of his worst im­pulses, re­moved some of the pres­i­dent’s most con­tentious aides, in­clud­ing Omarosa Mani­gault New­man, Se­bas­tian Gorka and Stephen Ban­non, and pro­vided the pres­i­dent nec­es­sary les­sons in na­tional se­cu­rity mat­ters.

Among Repub­li­cans in

Congress and mil­i­tary of­fi­cials, Kelly was seen as an es­sen­tial steady­ing hand.

“He was a force for or­der, clar­ity and good sense,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “He is de­part­ing what is often a thank­less job, but John Kelly has my eter­nal grat­i­tude.”

Though Trump loy­al­ists said Kelly tried to change the pres­i­dent too much, Kelly also drew de­ri­sion in­ter­nally for sup­port­ing the pres­i­dent’s rhetoric after last year’s deadly white na­tion­al­ist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and mis­han­dling the case of former staff sec­re­tary Rob Porter.

In one of his most mem­o­rable episodes, Kelly falsely at­tacked Rep. Fred­er­ica Wil­son, a Flor­ida Demo­crat

who crit­i­cized the pres­i­dent.

Kelly’s de­par­ture is an­ti­cli­mac­tic, after months of the pres­i­dent’s mus­ing about re­plac­ing him and com­plain­ing about his chief of staff to some ad­vis­ers even dis­cussing pos­si­ble suc­ces­sors. Still, cur­rent and former of­fi­cials said Trump con­tin­ues to re­spect Kelly, no mat­ter how often the two men clashed.

Trump and Kelly had agreed that the chief of staff would an­nounce the move Mon­day. But the pres­i­dent an­nounced it Satur­day amid a flurry of head­lines he wanted to change, ad­vis­ers said.


Army Gen. Mark Mil­ley with Pres­i­dent Trump at Satur­day’s Army-Navy foot­ball game. Trump ear­lier chose Mil­ley as chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


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