Trump names new AG, UN ambassador in Cabinet reshuffle
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 at the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia.
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, 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.