President Trump will announce his replacement for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, it has been revealed.
White House sources said that Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s current chief of staff, remains the top contender.
Trump revealed on Saturday that Kelly would be ‘leaving at the end of the year’.
‘John Kelly will be leaving – I don’t know if I can say retiring – but he’s a great guy,’ Trump told reporters as he was leaving the White House to attend the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.
President Trump will announce his replacement for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, it has been revealed
‘We’ll be announcing who will be taking John’s place – it might be on an interim basis. I’ll be announcing that over the next day or two, but John will be leaving at the end of the year. I appreciate his service very much.’
The announcement comes on the heels of a report by DailyMail.com on Friday that Kelly was ‘expected’ to leave the White House before the end of the year.
Trump had reportedly stopped speaking to Kelly, the latest development in a relationship that frayed over the 16 months that the retired Marine four-star general president over the West Wing.
Kelly’s future in the Trump administration had been uncertain for nearly a year, ever since a DailyMail.com report in February revealed domestic abuse allegations against former White House staff secretary Rob Porter and raised questions about Kelly’s handling of the affair.
The staff-shake up allows Trump to start fresh in anticipation of Democrats’ ascension to power in the House in January and and his re-election campaign in 2020.
Kelly had some success early on imposing a discipline structure to the West Wing after his appointment to the position in July of 2017. But his management style upset some allies of the president, including Anthony Scaramucci, a bundler for and major donor to Trump who Kelly sent packing his first day on the job.
The Homeland Security secretary at the time, Kelly replaced Reince Priebus, the former Republican National Committee chairman, becoming Trump’s second chief of staff in under two years.
Nick Ayers, the young chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, will be tapped next, sources familiar with the president’s thinking have said.
He was seen celebrating at the president’s Washington, D.C. hotel on Friday night with White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway and Scaramucci, the White House communications director who Kelly fired.
Aides to the president decamped to Trump International Hotel following a dinner that the president and first lady hosted for senior staff earlier in the evening, sources told DailyMail.com.
While they toasted to the president and to one another, they did not raise a glass to Ayers specifically, a White House official told DailyMail.com of the after-dinner gathering.
Scaramucci also said his presence was ‘totally accidental’ at the celebration — he was holding a book signing and presentation when his former colleagues came through and he greeted them.
Trump is seen with Kelly in his first day on the job as chief of staff on July 31, 2017. Kelly replaced Reince Priebus in the role as was initially expected to bring order to the West Wing
White House insiders had revealed Kelly’s impending departure earlier on Friday, telling DailyMail.com that morning that the decorated Marine Corps general was ‘expected’ to leave the White House before the end of the year.
A source familiar with the situation told DailyMail.com on Friday morning that the dinner at the White House in the evening for senior staff was supposed to serve as an appreciation event for Kelly and other departing senior officials.
‘They were trying to give John the out he deserved for his service to the country. That was the plan,’ the person said.
The timeline for an announcement was said to have been expedited after Kelly’s exit leaked to the media.
The decorated veteran participated in a handful of Oval Office meetings on Thursday, a source told DailyMail.com, adding that he and Trump didn’t interact before or afterward.
The president and Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, didn’t speak to one another during meetings at the White House on Thursday, a source told DailyMail.com
CNN reported Friday morning that Trump and Kelly were no longer on speaking terms.
They ‘know that they are 17 months into what has been a very tumultuous relationship. It is no longer seen as sustainable by either party,’ the network reported.
A source confirmed to DailyMail.com that Ayers is the president’s choice to succeed him
‘Their relationship has deteriorated so much in the last couple weeks, where John Kelly’s job security has essentially been seen as permanently in danger.’
As the White House tried to regain control of the narrative, The Daily Caller, a favored Trump news outlet, reported Friday that an unnamed source had said the idea of an impending Kelly resignation was ‘absolutely untrue,’ and that the chief of staff had merely taken a day off.
But Axios also reported Friday what administration insiders have said for weeks: Ayers was being groomed to take over for Kelly whenever he leaves.
A source also confirmed to DailyMail.com that Ayers is the president’s choice to succeed him.
The president has been telling people for the past several days to call Ayers if they have a request. The directive has spread so far that senior aides are no longer regarding Ayers’ ascension as a secret, an insider said on Friday morning.
‘John wanted to stay, but he has a broken relationship with the president, so bad you just can’t keep him,’ the person told DailyMail.com of the president’s claims this fall that Kelly was staying.
The Associated Press reported Saturday that Trump and Ayers are currently working out the terms of his employment — the president wants Kelly’s successor to commit to staying in the job until the 2020 election.
He has already had two chiefs of staff since his January 2017 inauguration. Trump in 2012 made fun of former President Barack Obama for a similarly dismal track record.
President Trump is reportedly no longer on speaking terms with the retired Marine Corps general who he asked this year to stay on through the 2020 elections
Trump announced during a senior staff meeting in July that he had asked Kelly to stay through the 2020 election, and that he agreed
He had insisted in October, as the White House attempted to project confidence in advance of the mid-terms, that he was not going to ditch Kelly for Ayers or other rumored candidates for the job.
Trump brought a New York Magazine reporter into the Oval Office for a parade of denials that ended with Kelly, 68, and Ayers, 36, giving each other a bear hug.
Since the election, the relationship between Trump and Kelly has apparently soured.
In a hint that Kelly was on his way out, deputy chief of staff Zachary Fuentes, started putting out feelers for a new job, Politico reported this week, circulating his resume to the Department of Defense and other Cabinet agencies.
Kelly had clashed with top Trump advisers inside and outside the White House, getting into West Wing screaming matches with the national security adviser, John Bolton, and others.
His claim in January of 2018 that Trump had ‘evolved’ in the way he looks at issues since he became the nation’s chief executive and became ‘fully informed’ also served as an irritant to the president.
Trump swatted back in a tweet the next morning that declared: ‘The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it.’
Kelly is seen in the Oval Office last month. His relationship with Trump had reportedly grown so frayed that in recent days the two men were no longer on speaking terms
The latest White House shakeup inspired some Trump critics to dig up this 2012 tweet
Kelly once joked that he had been removed as Homeland Security secretary and shifted to the White House because, ‘God punished me.’
Even so, Trump announced during a senior staff meeting in July that he had asked Kelly to stay through the 2020 election, and his chief of staff had agreed.
The two men discussed a commitment at the time for Kelly to agree to run the West Wing until 2024 if Trump were to win a second term.
Since then Trump had backtracked, arguing at a post-election news conference that people leave and it can’t be helped.
‘As we make changes, we’ll sit down and talk to you about it. I mean, there’s no great secret. A lot of administrations make changes after midterms. I will say that, for the most part, I’m very, very happy with this Cabinet. We’re doing a great job,’ the president said.
Pressed to confirm that Kelly was staying, Trump said, ‘People leave. I haven’t heard about John Kelly. But, no, people — people leave. They come in, they’re here. It’s a very exhausting job.’
He went further in a ‘Fox News Sunday’ interview later in the month, in which he admitted: ‘There are certain things that I don’t like that he does.’
‘There are a couple of things where it’s just not his strength. It’s not his fault. It’s not his strength,’ he asserted.
Trump said at ‘some point’ the retired marine general ‘is going to want to move on.’ He maintained that it is possible that Kelly would stay through 2020 but backed off the initial pledge.