Kelly ex­pected to de­part from the White House

Sources in­di­cate Trump is look­ing to Pence's chief of staff to fill the va­cancy Choice for U.N. likely to be quizzed on diplo­matic re­sume

Tulsa World - - Front Page - By Zeke Miller and Jill Colvin By Deb Riech­mann

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 gen­era l 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 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. He de­layed some of the big­gest shifts un­til af­ter the Novem­ber elec­tions at the urg­ing of aides who wor­ried that adding to his

Barr

al­ready-record turnover just be­fore the vot­ing would harm his party's elec­toral chances.

Now, nearly a month af­ter those midterms, in which his party sur­ren­dered control of the House to Democrats but ex­panded its slim ma­jor­ity in the Se­nate, Trump is start­ing to make moves.

He 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.

Ses­sions was ex­iled less than 24 hours af­ter polls closed. But Trump's broader ef­forts to re­shape his in­ner cir­cle have been on hold, lead­ing to a sense of near-paral­y­sis in the build­ing, with peo­ple un­sure of what to do.

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 re­elec­tion cam­paign.

“Now is the best op­por­tu­nity to be laser-fo­cused on fur­ther build­ing out the po­lit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture that will sup­port vic­tory for Pres­i­dent Trump and the GOP in 2020,” cam­paign man­ager Brad Parscale said in a state­ment.

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

Kelly was not at the White House on Fri­day, but was ex­pected to at­tend an East Room din­ner with the pres­i­dent and se­nior staff.

Ay­ers, who is a sea­soned cam­paign vet­eran de­spite his rel­a­tive youth — he's just 36 — has the back­ing of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kush­ner, the pres­i­dent's daugh­ter and son-in-law and se­nior ad­vis­ers, for the new role, ac­cord­ing to White House of­fi­cials..

Trump and Kelly's re­la­tion­ship has been strained for months — with Kelly on the verge of res­ig­na­tion and Trump nearly fir­ing him sev­eral times. But each time the two have de­cided to make amends, even as Kelly's in­flu­ence has waned.

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's pick to be Amer­ica's am­bas­sador at the United Nations is likely to face ques­tions about her thin diplo­matic re­sume dur­ing an up­com­ing Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing that will shine fresh at­ten­tion on the pres­i­dent's “Amer­ica first” ap­proach to for­eign pol­icy.

If con­firmed by the Se­nate, Heather Nauert, a 48-year-old for­mer Fox News Chan­nel re­porter, will re­place Nikki Haley. Nauert had lit­tle for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore tak­ing the podium as spokes­woman for the State Depart­ment.

Nauert's con­fir­ma­tion could hinge on her per­for­mance at the hear­ing. Still, she stands a good chance of ap­proval be­cause af­ter the new Congress be­gins in Jan­uary, Repub­li­cans will have a 53-47 vote ma­jor­ity over Democrats in the Se­nate.

In an­nounc­ing his de­ci­sion on Fri­day, Trump said Nauert was “very tal­ented, very smart, very quick.” He said he thought she would be “re­spected by all.”

Oth­ers, in­clud­ing for­mer U.S. am­bas­sador to Rus­sia, Michael McFaul, crit­i­cized the choice. Nauert's job as spokes­woman at State is “to read talk­ing points and ex­plain pol­icy,” McFaul tweeted. The job of U.N. am­bas­sador is very dif­fer­ent, he said, and usu­ally re­quires for­eign pol­icy or diplo­matic ex­per­tise or both.

Trump backer Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., is­sued a state­ment prais­ing Nauert, but his Repub­li­can col­leagues who sit on the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee were silent.

Nauert

“I've known Heather for many years. She is a fine and ca­pa­ble per­son,” Gra­ham said, adding that she had the con­fi­dence of Trump and Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo.

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 this year.

Trump is down­grad­ing the am­bas­sador's po­si­tion to a sub­Cabi­net-level post. That means Nauert could be over­shad­owed by Pom­peo or Trump's na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, John Bolton, who had the U.N. job in 2005 and 2006. She also would be go­ing up against for­eign coun­ter­parts like the U.N. representatives from Rus­sia and China, who each have decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in diplo­macy.

Nauert thanked Trump and said she was hum­bled at be­ing cho­sen. “If con­firmed, I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing the out­stand­ing job Am­bas­sador Haley has done rep­re­sent­ing your ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

Haley her­self ar­rived at the United Nations with lit­tle for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence be­yond pro­mot­ing in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ments in South Carolina. How­ever, she quickly learned key is­sues and how the U.N. op­er­ates.

Be­cause of her work at the State Depart­ment, Nauert would have the ad­van­tage of know­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion's po­si­tion on ma­jor global is­sues. But with­out be­ing a mem­ber of the Cab­i­net, she wouldn't have the same in­de­pen­dence Haley en­joyed.

Pom­peo tweeted that Nauert has trav­eled with him since he took the helm of the State Depart­ment. “I have great con­fi­dence in her. Heather plays a key role in ad­vanc­ing U.S. for­eign pol­icy & I look for­ward to her speedy con­fir­ma­tion.”

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