Kelly’s job re­port­edly hangs by a thread

The Mercury News - - News - By Josh Dawsey and John Wag­ner

WASH­ING­TON >> Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day ac­cel­er­ated a long-an­tic­i­pated shake-up of his Cabi­net in the wake of the midterm elec­tions, nam­ing new picks for at­tor­ney gen­eral and U.N. am­bas­sador amid wide­spread spec­u­la­tion that 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 the whirring blades of Marine One.

CNN re­ported Fri­day morn­ing that Kelly could be step­ping down in a mat­ter of days, but Trump did not pause long enough to take ques­tions from re­porters, though he teased he would make an­other big per­son­nel an­nounce­ment at the ArmyNavy game in Philadel­phia to­day.

“I can give you a lit­tle hint: It will have to do with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and suc­ces­sion,” Trump said.

The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported later Fri­day that in­di­vid­u­als fa­mil­iar with White House plans said Trump is ex­pected to choose Gen. Mark Mil­ley, the head of the Army, to be­come next chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

If his nom­i­na­tion is ap­proved, Mil­ley 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, speak­ing on the con­di­tion of 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 it’s not cer­tain that the de­par­ture was im­mi­nent as CNN re­ported. The of­fi­cial spoke on the con­di­tion of 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 re-elec­tion.


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