Trump reshuf­fles his Cabi­net

The Herald Sun - - Nation - BY JOSH DAWSEY AND JOHN WAG­NER

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. 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 sharpel­bowed 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.

Kelly, a re­tired four-star Marine Corps gen­eral, has been the pres­i­dent’s top aide since late July 2017. Trump has chafed at Kelly’s man­age­ment style. In re­cent months, the chief of staff’s power has ebbed, with ad­min­is­tra­tion poli­cies and de­ci­sions be­ing guided more by the pres­i­dent’s gut in­stincts than by Kelly’s pro­cesses.

Trump and Kelly have pri­vately ar­gued at times and com­plained about one an­other to con­fi­dants, some­times in col­or­ful lan­guage. But the two men are gen­er­a­tional peers and have a mea­sure of re­spect for one an­other, and have bonded over their shared ide­ol­ogy, es­pe­cially on im­mi­gra­tion is­sues.

LIU JIE/XIN­HUA TNS

U.S. State Depart­ment spokesper­son Heather Nauert will be nom­i­nated to serve as U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump con­firmed Fri­day.

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