President Donald Trump has ousted his White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and named his homeland security secretary, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, to replace him, the president announced on Twitter Friday afternoon.
“I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff,” Trump said. “He is a Great American and a Great Leader. John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He has been a true star of my Administration.
“I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his service and dedication to his country,” the president continued.”We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!”
The announcement comes after a week of conflict between Priebus and Trump’s newly appointed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, who had accused the chief of staff of leaking damaging information about him.
Priebus, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, had been named to the post in part to bring political experience to the Trump White House. But he clashed with Scaramucci and had been under siege by Trump advisers inside and outside of the White House who complained that he was ineffectual.
After Scaramucci was named communications director last week against Priebus’ vehement objections, White House officials widely believed that Priebus’s position had become more imperiled.
On Friday, as Trump traveled to New York, he took both Scaramucci and Priebus on Air Force One with him.
Asked to comment on the changes, Trump told reporters traveling with him on Air Force One that Priebus is a “good man,” and that Kelly is “respected by everybody.”
Kelly has formed a bond with the president over recent months that was fortified when he aggressively defended the travel ban policy and has only grown stronger since then, with Trump telling aides that he sees Kelly as someone who dutifully follows through on his agenda and does not ever cause him problems, according to two White House officials.
One outside Trump adviser said that the president is drawn to the discipline that Kelly and his other advisers who are former military officers bring to their roles.
Kelly has a warm rapport with White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who has worked closely with him on shaping the administration’s border enforcement policy. They have built a connection over their families’ military service. Bannon, a former Navy officer, has a daughter who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Kelly is also well liked by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who sees him as a stable presence with a low key personality. Kushner has described him to associates as the kind of figure he’d like to see have more say in the administration.
Kelly’s reputation and ability to work with both wings of a warring West Wing made the decision easier for Trump, the officials said.