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.
Trump announced he was picking a new attorney general ( William Barr) and a new ambassador to the U. N. ( Heather Nauert), and at the same time two senior aides departed the White House to beef up his 2020 campaign.
But the largest changes were still to come.
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 one 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 had chosen and has been weighing all sorts of changes over the past several months.
Now, he is starting to make moves.
He announced Friday that he'll nominate Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H. W. Bush, to the same role in his administration.
If confirmed, Barr will fill the slot vacated by Jeff Sessions, who was jettisoned by Trump last month over lingering resentment for recusing himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's TrumpRussia investigation.
Trump also announced that State Department spokeswoman Nauert is his pick to replace Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations, and he's expected Saturday to name Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff, to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the topranking military position in the country, administration officials said Friday.
Milley would succeed Gen. Joseph Dunford of the Marines, whose term as chairman expires next autumn.
All of this came the same day that Trump's re- election campaign announced that two veterans of the president's 2016 campaign, White House political director Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, the director of the office of public liaison, were leaving the administration to work on Trump's re- election campaign. More on Trump's picks: • Attorney general: Trump called Barr "a terrific man" and "one of the most Nauert Milley Barr Kelly
respected jurists in the country."
"During his tenure, he demonstrated an unwavering adherence to the rule of law," Trump said of Barr, while addressing a lawenforcement conference in
Democrats will presumably seek reassurances during confirmation proceedings that Barr, who as attorney general would be in a position to oversee Mueller's investigation, would not do anything to interfere with the probe.
An attorney general opposed to the investigation could theoretically move to cut funding or block certain investigative steps.
Barr was attorney general between 1991 and 1993, serving in the Justice Department at the same Mueller oversaw the department's criminal division.
Barr later worked as a corporate general counsel and is currently of counsel at a prominent international law firm, Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
Still, while in private practice, Barr has occasionally weighed in on hot- button investigative matters with conservative views that could prompt concerns among Democrats.
He was once quoted in a Washington Post story expressing concern that members of Mueller's team
had given contributions to Democratic candidates.
But Ohio Sen. Rob Portman predicted the Senate will confirm Barr, telling the Dayton Daily News that the nominee has “a good reputation as being a good strong lawyer and a manager.”
Portman and Barr were colleagues in the first Bush administration.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D- Ohio, said he plans to "fully review Mr. Barr’s record, particularly when it comes to the criminal justice issues that impact the lives of people across the country each day."
• U. N. ambassador: Nauert is likely to face questions about her thin diplomatic resume during an upcoming Senate confirmation. Nauert, a 48- year- old former Fox News Channel reporter, had little foreign policy experience before taking the podium as spokeswoman for the State Department.
If she gets the job, Nauert would take the post with less clout than Haley, a former South Carolina governor who announced in October that she would step down at the end of this year. Trump is downgrading the ambassador's position to a sub- Cabinet- level post.
Because of her work at the State Department, Nauert would have the advantage of already knowing the Trump administration's position on all major global issues. But without being a member of the Cabinet, she wouldn't have the same independence that Haley has enjoyed.
She also would arrive at
a time when Trump and members of his foreign policy team have all displayed sometimes open contempt for the United Nations and its affiliated agencies.
Nauert also worked at State as the acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs.
• Chairman of Joint Chiefs: It is unusual for a successor to the top military job to be chosen so early, but the president has long been known to have a preference for Milley, an ebullient officer who is well known in the halls of the Pentagon and at Army bases around the world.
That preference for Milley was at odds with Trump’s defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who is believed to have wanted Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein for the job.
Milley has a long military pedigree with some of the Army’s legendary units, like the 82nd Airborne Division and the 10th Mountain Division.
He has served multiple combat deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
• Chief of staff: The man who may replace Kelly, Ayers, is a seasoned campaign veteran despite his relative youth — he's just 36 — and has the backing of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president's daughter and son- in- law and senior advisers, according to White House officials.