Trump says chief of staff John Kelly to leave at year’s end

John Kelly, a retired Marine general, has served as chief of staff since June 2017.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday that chief of staff John Kelly will leave his job by year’s end amid an expected West Wing reshuffling reflecting a focus on the 2020 re-election campaign and the challenge of governing with Democrats reclaiming control in the House.

An announcement about Kelly’s replacement was expected in the coming days, the president told reporters as he departed the White House for the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.

Only a day before, Trump named his picks for attorney general and ambassador to the United Nations, and two senior aides shifted from the White House to Trump’s campaign.

Kelly had been credited with imposing order on a chaotic West Wing after his arrival in June 2017 from his post as homeland security secretary. His iron first also alienated some longtime Trump allies, and he grew increasingly isolated, with an increasingly diminished role.

Known through the West Wing as “the chief” or “the general,” the retired Marine Corps four-star general was tapped by Trump via tweet to try to normalize a White House riven by infighting and competing power bases.

“John Kelly will leaving — I don’t know if I can say retiring — but he’s a great guy,” Trump told reporters. “John Kelly will be leaving at the end of the year. 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.”

Kelly had early successes, including ending an open-door Oval Office policy that had been compared to New York’s Grand Central Station and instituting a more rigorous policy process to try to prevent staffers from going directly to Trump.

Those efforts miffed the president and some of his most influential outside allies, who had grown accustomed to unimpeded access. Kelly’s handling of domestic violence accusations against the former White House staff secretary also caused consternation, especially among lower-level White House staffers, who thought Kelly had lied to them about when he found out about the allegations.

On Friday, Trump announced that he would nominate William Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, to the same role in his administration. He fills the slot vacated by former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was jettisoned by Trump over lingering resentments for stepping aside from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Trump also said that State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was his pick to replace Nikki Haley as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Earlier Saturday, he announced that he wanted Army chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley as the next chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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