Trump replaces chief of staff Priebus
with retired General Kelly
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[July 29, 2017]
By Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald
Trump replaced his beleaguered White House chief of staff, Reince
Priebus, after only six months on the job on Friday, installing retired
General John Kelly in his place in a major shake-up of his top team.
Trump announced the move in a tweet a day after his new communications
director, Anthony Scaramucci, accused Priebus of leaking information to
reporters in a profanity-laced tirade.
Kelly, 67, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, is currently
secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and will assume the
chief of staff post on Monday. He was hired with the goal of bringing
more discipline to the White House, a senior White House official said.
Trump issued his decision just as he landed aboard Air Force One after a
visit to Long Island and hours after Republican efforts to repeal
Obamacare failed in the Senate.
Priebus was on the plane with the Republican president and made no
comment. Reporters had noticed no sign of stress from Priebus during the
day.Priebus told CNN he had been talking to Trump for some time about
exiting the White House, and is the latest in a long line of officials
to leave or not take a job at the White House.
"The president has a right to hit a reset button. I think it's time to
hit the reset button," Priebus said in a televised interview from the
White House. "He intuitively determined that it was time to do something
different, and I think he's right."
Trump had lost confidence in Priebus, privately questioning his
competence after major legislative items failed to pass the U.S.
Congress, a Trump confidant said.
A source close to Priebus said the former Republican National Committee
chairman turned in his resignation on Thursday night, after Scaramucci's
rant against him was published by the New Yorker magazine.
A senior White House official said Trump had informed Priebus two weeks
ago that he would be replacing him and that the move had no connection
to Scaramucci, whose hiring a week ago prompted Sean Spicer, a Priebus
ally, to abruptly resign as press secretary.
After frequent conversations with Kelly, Trump recently warmed up to the
idea of naming Kelly chief of staff to more effectively manage personnel
and offered it to him earlier this week, a senior White House official
KELLY 'A STAR'
Carrying an umbrella, Trump approached reporters as he stepped off Air
Force One, with rain storming down.
"Reince is a good man. John Kelly will do a fantastic job. General Kelly
has been a star, done an incredible job thus far, respected by
everybody. He's a great, great American. Reince is a good man," Trump
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump (L) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Secretary John Kelly hold their hands over their hearts for the U.S.
National Anthem as they attend the Coast Guard Academy commencement
ceremonies where Trump addressed the graduating class in New London,
Connecticut, U.S., May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Priebus' 189-day tenure was the shortest in modern history for a
White House chief of staff. He had hoped to stay on at least a year
but struggled to manage his unpredictable boss and was unable to get
a handle on conflicting factions in the White House who have
In a statement, Priebus said it had been one of the great honors of
his life to serve Trump and the country.
"I will continue to serve as a strong supporter of the president's
agenda and policies. I can't think of a better person than General
John Kelly to succeed me and I wish him God's blessings and great
success," he said.
Trump loyalists had chafed at Priebus, feeling he had installed his
RNC allies at the White House and overlooked the people close to
Trump who helped get him elected president in November.
But Priebus allies felt he was an important link to establishment
Republicans in Washington as the capital attempted to adjust to the
anti-establishment style of the president.
"He has served the president and the American people capably and
passionately," House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said of
his close friend in a statement. "He has achieved so much, and he
has done it all with class. I could not be more proud to call Reince
a dear friend."
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said she did not think
Priebus' exit would affect the White House's relationship with the
"I think we've still got a good relationship. We're going to
continue working with the party and doing what we came here to do,"
Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke will become the
acting chief of the department on Monday, DHS said in a statement.
U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican who chairs
the House Homeland Security Committee, is among those being
considered for Homeland Security secretary, a DHS official said.
(Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe and David Shepardson; Editing
by Lisa Shumaker)
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