Trump mak­ing big staff changes

Chief of Staff John Kelly out, Pence chief Nick Ay­ers in?

The Times-Tribune - - NATION & WORLD - BY ZEKE MILLER AND JILL COLVIN

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump inched closer to his long-teased ma­jor White House shake-up Fri­day, gear­ing up for the twin chal­lenges of bat­tling for re-elec­tion 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 U.S. at­tor­ney gen­eral and a new am­bas­sador to the U.N., 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 to dis­cuss sen­si­tive per­son­nel mat­ters.

Trump an­nounced Fri­day that he’ll nom­i­nate Wil­liam 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 un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously jet­ti­soned by Trump last month over lin­ger­ing re­sent­ment for re­cus­ing him­self from over­see­ing spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s Trump-rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Trump also an­nounced that State Depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert is his pick to re­place Nikki Haley as the next U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Nations, and he said he’d have an­other an­nounce­ment Satur­day about the mil­i­tary’s top brass.

All 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.

The moves had long been planned, and will give Kelly’s even­tual suc­ces­sor room to build a new White House po­lit­i­cal team.

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