John Kelly, secretary of homeland security and a retired four-star Marine General, will replace Reince Priebus as the new White House Chief of Staff, U.S. President Donald Trump announced in a tweet late Friday afternoon.
Priebus becomes the 11th Trump administration official to resign or be fired, joining the likes of former FBI director James Comey and press secretary Sean Spicer. He was told two weeks ago that he was going to be replaced, Reuters quoted a senior White House official as saying.
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Trump didn’t seem perturbed by the high rate of turnover in his ranks however, as he lauded Gen. Kelly as a “true star” of his administration who did a “spectacular job at Homeland Security.” He told reporters that Priebus was “a good man,” and thanked him for his service.
The announcement comes a day after White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci slammed Priebus in a profanity-laced rant to New Yorker magazine.
Scaramucci, who was himself only appointed to his position last week, suggested that Priebus convinced Trump not to give him a White House position. He also hinted that Priebus leaked his personal financial disclosure information, when in fact the information had been obtained via a public records request.
“Reince Priebus – if you want to leak something – he’ll be asked to resign very shortly,” he told New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza.
In an awkward turn of events, Trump, Priebus and Scaramucci were all sat on Air Force One earlier Friday for a trip to Long Island, where Trump spoke about the crack down against the notorious MS-13 gang.
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Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday evening, Priebus revealed that he submitted his resignation Thursday night, and insisted that President Trump and Gen. Kelly had his full support.
“I think change is good. [Trump] wanted to go in a different direction, and I support him in that, and I look forward to working with General Kelly in the next couple of weeks,” he said.
“I’m always going to be a Trump fan, I’m on team Trump and I look forward to helping him achieve his goals and his agenda for the American people.”
He said he didn’t want to address or respond to Scaramucci’s insults because “it doesn’t honour the president.”
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Priebus’ position was far from tenable well before his simmering feud with Scaramucci exploded into full public view, however.
Traditionally, White House staffers including the communications director report directly to the chief of staff. But Trump structured his staff in such a way that several top advisers bypassed Priebus altogether and reported directly to the president.
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Moreover, Trump made it clear from the get-go that Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon would serve as “equal partners” in implementing his agenda.
Gen. Kelly was believed to be among four candidates under consideration for the post, alongside deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, chief economic advisor Gary Cohn and Trump’s former campaign adviser David Urban.
– With files from The Associated Press
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